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Modi speech: Here is a list of all schemes announced by the PM

Modi speech: Here is a list of all schemes announced by the PM

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New Delhi – Following is the list of sops that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his speech on the eve of the New Year.

1) For the poor: Two new schemes under PM Awaas Yojna. Home loans for poor and middle class people up to Rs 9 lakh will get 4 percent exemption on interest and 3 percent for up to Rs 12 lakh loans.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

2) For farmers: Sixty days interest waiver for farm loans taken from from district co-operative banks and co-operative societies.

3) For senior citizens: 8 percent interest up to Rs 7.5 lakh deposit by senior citizens in banks.

4) For small businesses: Credit guarantee for micro small and medium enterprises to be raised to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore.

5) For women: Pregnant women across India will be given Rs 6,000 in their bank accounts to take care of initial medical needs.

6) For farmers: The government will convert 3 crore Kisan Credit cards to RUpay Credit cards.

7) For small businesses: Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit for small businesses to 25 percent from 20 percent.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:05 IST

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Bangladesh Live Score

NZ vs BAN | Dec 31st, 2016

NZ 239 2 41.2

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Indian army prepared to meet any challenges, says General Dalbir Singh Suhag

Indian army prepared to meet any challenges, says General Dalbir Singh Suhag

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New Delhi: Indian army is prepared to meet any challenges, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag who superannuated as Army chief said today.

He also thanked the government for providing a free hand and implementing OROP.

He said that infiltration attempts had increased during the year and the number of terrorists killed too was nearly double the previous year.

The Indian army is prepared to meet any challenges, he said, adding that the force had focused on operational preparedness during his tenure.

Suhag said that when he had taken over he had said that the response of Indian army to any action against our interest would be immediate, adequate and intense.

Indian army has done that in the last two-and-half years, he said.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 13:53 IST

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Bangladesh Live Score

NZ vs BAN | Dec 31st, 2016

NZ 239 2 41.2

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West Bengal: Howrah road mishap injures 31, leaves four critical

West Bengal: Howrah road mishap injures 31, leaves four critical

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Howrah: At least 31 people were injured when a bus hit a lorry on NH6 due to dense fog in West Bengal’s Howrah district on Friday, police said.

The private bus with a complement of 50 passengers was heading to the beach resort of Digha from Madhyamgram in North 24 Parganas when it hit the lorry from behind at Ashariya village on NH6 near Bagnan, a police officer said.

At least 31 people, including the driver and the helper, were injured and rushed to Uluberia General hospital. The condition of four, including a woman, was stated to be critical, the officer said.

The lorry driver fled with the vehicle but the bus, which sustained damage, has been seized, the officer said.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 13:05 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 163 10 53.2

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 281 10 96.3

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Pune bakery fire: Six workers killed in Kondhwa’s ‘Cakes and Bakes’; fire contained

Pune bakery fire: Six workers killed in Kondhwa’s ‘Cakes and Bakes’; fire contained

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Six people died in a fire that broke out in a Pune bakery early morning on Friday, reports said.

According to DNA, the incident took place in a Cakes and Bakes outlet near Talab company in Kondhwa Khurd locality of the city. Six employees working in the bakery were charred to death, it said.

Though the exact reason for the fire is not known, according to MaharashtraToday.in report, a short circuit is reportedly believed to have caused the fire. “The bakery was locked from outside and so the workers got trapped inside and died in the fire,” it said.

A video shared by YouTube shows the fire spreading to nearby shops. Firstpost, however, couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the video.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 09:45 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 91 5 31.0

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 240 5 83.0

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Tata Sons asks Cyrus Mistry to return all confidential information | Reuters

Tata Sons asks Cyrus Mistry to return all confidential information | Reuters

Dec 29, 2016 20:20 IST

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MUMBAI Tata Sons demanded former chairman Cyrus Mistry return all confidential information and documents regarding the company in his possession, in its second legal notice in as many days.The letter, sent by Tata Sons’ lawyers, further demanded that Mistry sign a letter pledging not to disclose any confidential information regarding the company, including to affiliates, relatives and family members.”We have credible information that you have wrongfully and dishonestly taken movable property being confidential information,” said the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The notice comes after Tata Sons, the holding firm for the $100 billion Tata conglomerate, on Tuesday accused Mistry of breaching confidentiality rules, and said it would take legal action against him.

(Reporting by Rafael Nam)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 20:20 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

AUS 465 6 113.5

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 240 5 83.0

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Bangladesh Live Score

NZ vs BAN | Dec 29th, 2016

BAN 184 10 42.4

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Parasmal Lodha arrested by ED for allegedly converting Rs 25 crore from old to new notes

Parasmal Lodha arrested by ED for allegedly converting Rs 25 crore from old to new notes

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested at Mumbai arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Reddy and Srinvasulu’s arrests were also in the context of illegally exchanging old notes for new ones and going against RBI guidelines.

News18 also points out that Lodha had earlier been detained from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport after it was discovered that the sum of Rs 13 crore seized from the office of lawyer Rohit Tandon in Delhi’s Greater Kailash area, belonged to Lodha.

He is not believed to be related in any way to builder and BJP leader Mangal Prabhat Lodha.

More details as they emerge.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 10:40 IST

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Demonetiation effect: Income Tax employees union complains of “unbearable workload”

Demonetiation effect: Income Tax employees union complains of “unbearable workload”

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Hyderabad: The Income Tax Employees Federation and Income Tax Gazetted Officers Association (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) on Tuesday urged the Centre to fill up the vacancies and take other steps to ease the workload in the wake of demonetisation.

There were almost 30-35 percent vacancies at assistant commissioner of income tax (ACIT) and deputy commissioner of income tax (DCIT) level and first supervisory position like joint commissioner of income tax (JCIT) and additional commissioner of income tax (Addl CIT), while at the staff level around 40 percent posts were vacant, it said in a release.

The employees were under “unbearable extra workload”, it added.

The issues of “faulty cadre structure”, promotions, recruitment, inadequate infrastructure including severe office space crunch and poor Internet and intranet connectivity should be dealt with, it said.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 10:56 IST

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Murray, Kerber named ITF players of the year | Reuters

Murray, Kerber named ITF players of the year | Reuters

Dec 13, 2016 22:21 IST

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LONDON Briton Andy Murray and Germany’s Angelique Kerber were named ITF World Champions on Tuesday, capping stellar years for the men’s and women’s world number ones. Murray, whose brother Jamie was named doubles World Champion along with Brazil’s Bruno Soares, won Wimbledon in July before becoming the first player to win two Olympic singles gold medals when he retained his crown in Rio de Janeiro in August.He won nine titles in a milestone year that ended with him beating rival Novak Djokovic to win the ATP Tour Finals and seal the year-end rankings top spot.

“It means a lot to me to be named ITF World Champion. I have had such a memorable year,” Murray said in a statement. Kerber enjoyed an equally impressive season, winning the Australian and U.S. Open titles as well as an Olympic silver medal in Rio.

She becomes the first German to win the award since Steffi Graf claimed the last of her seven in 1996.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 22:21 IST

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Getting children into school is not like going to Pluto, says Julia Gillard | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The world is facing a crisis if countries do not increase their education budgets and get more children into school, warned Julia Gillard, chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a global education funding agencyThere are 260 million children and adolescents out of school globally, says the Education Commission, a global organisation of former prime ministers, academics and business leaders set up last year to campaign for investment in education.This is attributed largely to poverty with parents unable to afford to send their children to school but also other factors such as discrimination based on ethnicity, caste or religion. Education Commission data forecasts that by 2030, half of the 1.6 billion young people in the world will not have secondary level skills, and will not be easily absorbed into a job market which is demanding higher skill levels.Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, said this was a crisis not just for the individual child who misses out on school, but also at the global economy level. “One of things we have learned is that we can overcome these problems if we try

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No survivors in northern Pakistan air crash, says airline chairman | Reuters

No survivors in northern Pakistan air crash, says airline chairman | Reuters

Dec 7, 2016 23:05 IST

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ISLAMABAD None of the dozens of people on board a Pakistan International Airlines (PIAa.KA) aircraft that crashed into a mountain in northern Pakistan on Wednesday survived the accident, the airline’s chairman said.”There are no survivors, no one has survived,” Muhammad Azam Saigol told a press conference late on Wednesday, about five hours after flight PK661 from Chitral to the capital, Islamabad, crashed near the town of Havelian, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.The airline had earlier announced 48 people were on board the aircraft.

Saigol said the ATR-42 aircraft had undergone regular maintenance and had in October passed an “A-check” certification, conducted after every 500 hours of flight operations.”I think that there was no technical error or human error … obviously there will be a proper investigation,” he said.

(Reporting by Asad Hashim, editing by Larry Kign)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 23:05 IST

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India don’t need turning wickets, says captain Kohli | Reuters

By Amlan Chakraborty
| MOHALI, India

MOHALI, India India have enough skill to win test matches irrespective of the nature of the wicket, skipper Virat Kohli said after a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over England in the third test on Tuesday.Debates about pitches overshadowed India’s 3-0 series victory over South Africa last year, with the Nagpur track labelled “poor” by the International Cricket Council following the home team’s victory inside three days.There were no such demons at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium where the tracks had something for the fast as well as the slow bowlers.”It’s been exactly 12 months since I was asked a question about us playing on unfair pitches,” Kohli said after a match where England paceman Ben Stokes claimed the only five-wicket haul.”Even when we played in Kolkata (against New Zealand) earlier this year we showed that we don’t need dry, square-turners.

“We have enough skill to play good cricket and win against any good team in the world. That’s the belief we have created in the changing room.”It was a perfectly good wicket for pace bowlers as well,” Kohli said. “Our guys really rushed in and put in an effort and got their results.

“It was a wicket if you persisted long enough you would get the results you wanted.”Since the series against South Africa last year, India have won in West Indies and beaten New Zealand to become the world’s number one test team.India are halfway through their bumper 13-test home season and Kohli was particularly happy with the depth of his bowling resources.

“It boosts your confidence up a notch when you have quality bowlers in reserve as well. As a captain you always feel you can ask your main guys to push themselves in every game,” he said.”We still have (pacemen) Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar waiting for their chance, even spinner Amit Mishra is not playing. The good thing is whoever is playing is standing up and making his presence felt.” (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 19:33 IST

When wings weave a tale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Every naturalist dreams of witnessing some of the greatest natural history moments on the planet, such as the wildebeest migration, glowing seas or the northern lights. The greatest animal migrations are one of these natural history moments, during which animals migrate together in unimaginable numbers, covering incredible distances across continents every year. The annual Amur falcon migration, from Russia and China to the east African coast via India, is one such sought-after spectacle.Although I’ve had a preview of these huge congregations in Northeast India in the past, it was only this year, in early November that I planned to witness this miracle at its best at the Doyang reservoir in Nagaland, where an estimated 50,000 birds blanket the entire sky.Named after the Amur region of Southeast Russia and Northeast China, Amur falcons breed there in the summer before undertaking the longest recorded sea crossing of 22,000 km to east and south Africa, passing through the Himalayas within a few weeks. A large number of these birds make a quick stop around water bodies, such as in Doyang reservoir in remote Nagaland where roughly two lakh birds must be stopping over a 2-3 week period every year. When they first started showing up in Nagaland, these birds were hunted by the locals. At the time, I played a small role in the Amur falcon conservation project that kicked off in 2013, following reports of these mass hunts in 2012. Pangti village and Doyang reservoir became globally known when within a year the mass hunting stopped entirely thanks to the effort of several organisations.This year, soon after Diwali, I set off for Nagaland with a couple of friends. We had to arrive in Doyang, a tiny village nestled in the hill, the same day as the flight landed in Dimapur to be able to watch the spectacle. We started early the following morning to reach the congregation roosting sites near the beautiful Pangti village. Even before reaching the site, where villagers have built watch towers and tourist reception centers, Amur falcons had already started coming off the roosts and filling up the sky. We were overwhelmed at the sight—hundreds of birds dotted the sky. Soon, we were flabbergasted when we went slightly downhill to a watchtower; the sheer numbers of falcons had taken over every bit of available tree branch and the sky was full of specks of these birds. It took us a while before we returned to our senses and started clicking pictures and shooting videos in a frenzy. A few hours later, we had a delicious local meal while watching the falcons feasting on termites and other insects. After about an hour of feeding, around 50,000 birds returned from all directions by the time it was almost dark. The overwhelming numbers of these falcons, and this once-in-a-year spectacle is enough to stun any person.(The writer is a Mumbai-based naturalist who travels the expanse of India’s pristine wildlife habitats)

At least seven shot on campus at Ohio State University – CNN | Reuters

At least seven shot on campus at Ohio State University – CNN | Reuters

Nov 28, 2016 21:32 IST

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At least seven people were injured at Ohio State University, CNN reported, after school officials reported an active shooter on campus on Monday.The seven injured were transported to the hospital, according to CNN. The suspected shooter was shot, local television station WBNS reported, citing law enforcement sources.Columbus police said on Twitter they were assisting university law enforcement. Representatives for the university did not immediately return calls.

WBNS showed images of more than a dozen police cars parked at an intersection at the school and a line of about 10 ambulances parked nearby.Ohio State student Wyatt Crosher told CNN he heard what sounded like gunfire and then emergency sirens.

Crosher said that he was staying in his dorm room near the scene of the reported shooting.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 21:32 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Nov 26th, 2016

ENG 78 4 38.0

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Pakistan Live Score

NZ vs PAK | Nov 25th, 2016

PAK 1 0 3.0

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Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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FRANKFURT Thyssenkrupp executives left open the possibility on Thursday that the German industrial group could keep the majority in any new entity formed by a merger of its European steel operations with those of a competitor.”The most important thing for us is that by a consolidation and by the underlying plan we can address the issues of overcapacity,” Chief Finance Officer Guido Kerkhoff told analysts on a conference call.”We have never stated consolidation, non-consolidation or discussed percentages and we don’t do that today either.”

He added that an initial public offering of the business without a merger would offer no solution to the underlying overcapacity issue.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs South Africa Live Score

AUS vs SA | Nov 24th, 2016

AUS 14 0 12.0

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Tata board was divided over $12-billion Corus deal: ousted chairman | Reuters

Tata board was divided over $12-billion Corus deal: ousted chairman | Reuters

Nov 22, 2016 18:28 IST

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NEW DELHI Ratan Tata‘s decision to acquire steelmaker Corus for more than $12 billion, when a year earlier it was available at half the price, went against the reservations of some board members and senior executives, Cyrus Mistry said on Tuesday.Mistry, who was last month ousted as chairman of Tata Sons, the holding firm for the $100 billion steel-to-software Tata empire, said in a statement that this decision made it harder to invest in the acquired assets and placed jobs at risk.

In the statement Mistry also defended his involvement in growing the revenues and profits at two key group companies, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS.NS) and Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), that make up the bulk of Tata’s $100 billion revenues.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 18:28 IST

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Tripura bypolls: Vote counting begins in Barjala, Khowai

Tripura bypolls: Vote counting begins in Barjala, Khowai

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Agartala: The counting of votes of the by-elections to the Barjala and Khowai assembly seats in Tripura began on Tuesday, an official said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Polling for the two scheduled caste reserved seats in Tripura took place on Saturday amidst tight security.

The Barjala seat fell vacant after Congress legislator Jitendra Sarkar resigned on 6 June following an internal feud within the party while the Khowai seat turned vacant following the death of veteran CPI-M legislator Samir Deb Sarkar.

Five candidates each contested from the two constituencies.

Both by-polls were four-cornered contests.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 10:56 IST

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India allows 250,000 rupee wedding cash withdrawals after notes ban | Reuters

India allows 250,000 rupee wedding cash withdrawals after notes ban | Reuters

Nov 21, 2016 20:36 IST

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MUMBAI India’s central bank said on Monday that people can withdraw up to 250,000 rupees ($3,670) for wedding related expenses, provided they submit adequate proof and the wedding is on or before Dec. 30.The cash withdrawals will be allowed out of the balance in the account as of close of business on Nov. 8, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement. (bit.ly/2g9nZt1)Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped a bombshell on Nov. 8 by abolishing 500 and 1,000 rupee notes that accounted for 86 percent of cash in circulation. The move was aimed at cracking down on the shadow economy but has brought India’s cash economy to a virtual standstill.Modi’s decision to withdraw the high-value bills in the middle of the wedding and seed sowing season has drawn widespread criticism from Indians forced to queue at banks to exchange bills or without cash to pay for goods and services.

The RBI said the wedding withdrawals could be made by either of the parents or the people getting married after submitting an application.People looking to withdraw have to also submit evidence of the wedding, including the invitation card and copies of receipts for advance payments, and a detailed list of people who will receive the cash.

The RBI also said it would allow farmers to withdraw cash up to 25,000 rupees a week from their loan or deposit accounts subject to their accounts. (bit.ly/2guTdiv)Earlier on Monday, the Indian government allowed farmers to purchase seeds with old 500 rupee banknote from state-run outlets.

($1 = 68.1385 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 20:36 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Nov 17th, 2016

ENG 158 10 97.3

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LIVE Zimbabwe Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

ZIM vs SL | Nov 21st, 2016

ZIM 55 2 13.3

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Assam: Three soldiers killed, four injured in IED explosion in Tinsukia, ULFA hand suspected

Assam: Three soldiers killed, four injured in IED explosion in Tinsukia, ULFA hand suspected

Nov 19, 2016 10:42 IST

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Guwahati: Three soldiers were killed after suspected militants fired at an army convoy in Assam’s Tinsukia district on Saturday, defence officials said.

The incident took place at around 5.30 am, in the Pengeri area, Defence public relations officer Lt. Col. Suneet Newton said.

“They (the militants) had planted an improvised explosive device (IED) on the road. When the IED exploded, the convoy stopped. Then the militants fired indiscriminately,” Newton said, adding that although the forces retaliated, four soldiers were injured of which one succumbed in the hospital.

Locals said that the militants had fired upon the vehicle from both the side of the road, which are forested areas.

On Wednesday, militants attacked a van of the Pengeri tea estate killing one person and injuring two others.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 10:42 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Nov 17th, 2016

IND 8 0 5.2

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Pakistan Live Score

NZ vs PAK | Nov 17th, 2016

PAK 129 7 66.0

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LIVE Zimbabwe Vs West Indies Live Score

ZIM vs WI | Nov 19th, 2016

ZIM 46 2 13.1

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Mallika Sherawat assaulted in Paris – media | Reuters

Mallika Sherawat assaulted in Paris – media | Reuters

Nov 17, 2016 21:57 IST

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PARIS Bollywood actor Mallika Sherawat and her partner were assaulted in Paris last week, AFP and other media reported on Thursday, just over a month after U.S reality TV star Kim Kardashian was attacked and robbed in the French capital.The assault on Sherawat took place on Nov. 11, AFP said. “Sherawat was punched in the face and sprayed with tear gas by masked attackers who tried to steal her handbag,” the French news agency said, citing a police source.

The attackers fled without taking anything, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

Nobody was immediately available to comment at the Paris prosecutor’s office. A police spokesman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Louise Ireland)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 21:57 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Nov 17th, 2016

IND 317 4 90.0

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Pakistan Live Score

NZ vs PAK | Nov 17th, 2016

PAK 53 3 19.0

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Legends of the supermoon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tonight’s full moon is the closest the moon has been to earth in almost 69 years and will be this close again only in 2034. While developments in technology have equipped us with such information, in ancient times people had only their imaginations to rely on.With the sun being a steady source of light, rising and setting day after day, it was the everchanging shape of the moon that made people fear and worship it.Here are a few mythical stories of the moon from different traditions.Chang’e: The Chinese goddess of the moon, consumed the potion of immortality that was gifted to her husband, Houyi, following which she flew to the heavens and became a permanent resident on the moon. She is worshipped during the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and Vietnam. People set up open-air altars facing the moon while the Goddess’ favourtie — fruits and cakes are offered.Selene: The moon goddess in ancient Greek mythology was famous for pulling the moon across the sky in her silver chariot drawn by two winged horses. She was accompanied by her siblings Helios and Eos, the sun and dawn respectively.Tsukuyomi: The male god who lived in the heavens with his sister, Amaterasu, the sun goddess, one day angered her when he killed Uke Mochi, the goddess of food. Amaterasu refused to look at him again and forever moved to another part of the sky which is why day and night are never together.Tecciztecatl: The lunar deity for the Aztecs in Mexico, Tecciztecatl is often referred to as the ‘Old Moon god’. Legend has it that once the god was in the race to become the next sun god but quivered at the moment of jumping into the sacrificial fire to prove his courage. Angered, the gods threw a rabbit at him leaving an imprint and dimming his brightness so that he could be seen only at night.Mawu and Lisa: Unlike other traditions in which sun and moon gods are separate entities, in Africa they are linked together as Creator gods. Often referred to as the holy twins, Mawu is the moon god representing the female half and creative qualities, and Lisa, the sun god that represents the male counterpart.

I don’t want to join politics now, want to teach instead: Kanhaiya Kumar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a time when JNU is nearing the tipping point over the disappearance of student Najeeb Ahmed, former student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar is out with a book about his eventful journey from his hometown of Bihat in Bihar, to Tihar jail. Titled From Bihar to Tihar, the book, published by Juggernaut has hit the stands. In a free-wheeling chat, Kanhaiya tells Amrita Madhukalya about the inclusiveness of JNU, about his dreams of being a teacher, and why student movements have always been pivotal to social revolutions. Edited excerpts.How did the book come about?There was no intention to write a book. When I entered Tihar, I asked for papers and a pen so that I can write something to bide my time. When I came out of the jail, journalists asked me if I had a jail diary. I said yes, and they asked me if I intended to bring it among people. I said if the opportunity arises, I will do that. I had no intention to come out with a book.Soon enough, various publishing houses made me offers. A friend advised me that there was a possibility of a narrative in society.I have a habit of looking at things through the prism of historical materialism — how do we arrive at things. I was not sent to jail over the events of a day. There were political reasons behind it. Without weaving that, the reason why I ended up in jail would have been incomplete.That’s when I arrived at a memoir. I did not think that a biography is justified. Also, I do not want to hide that I haven’t been receiving my fellowship for over a year. And, the fellowship wasn’t enough for me to help my family.You are quite aware of the political climate of the country. And if one reads the book, this awareness finds its root in your hometown of Bihat. Your father’s ideology is tangential to yours.I was always against my father’s extreme left ideology. In JNU, I defeated my father’s organisation. In Bihar, people are politically conscious, they understand and participate. You will be surprised to see in Bihar that a man who runs a paan shop will rattle off who did Indira Gandhi lose out to in a particular year, and by how many votes!The political climate inside JNU has always been throbbing, with students picking up the cudgels for various issues over the years. Yet, during the time when you went to jail, the spotlight was suspiciously bright, don’t you think.It is not because of the increase in ABVP’s presence as people think; ABVP has won JNU elections several times. I see two reasons behind this. One, this is the age of the information revolution; everyone has a mobile. Media today is a strong pole in democracy; it can sway emotions and manipulate viewers.Secondly, this government’s ideology is that if it repeat something a hundred times, it become a truth. Their mandate is to control news channels and newspapers.JNU is a symbol of resistance; during Indira Gandhi’s time JNU created a lot of trouble. And later, during Manmohan Singh’s time. During every successive government, JNU has stood up with an alternative discourse. The December 16 movement started at JNU; Occupy UGC was centred here, and even the Rohith Vemula movement found a national audience here.The government’s mandate is to stop these discussions. JNU is not the left ideology; it is the dominance of the liberal authority. This is the evolution of the united front.What does JNU mean to you?”JNU is not a island,” is a line one often hears in the university. I agree. I think JNU is a sea, in which several islands exist. There is no denial in JNU. Whether you read the namaaz five times a day, or you wear a tika on your forehead, or you shrug off all religions — inside JNU you are the same.JNU never scared or ridiculed me. I was never scared outside the towering gates of JNU I was safe there. I will always fight for JNU. Where else will you see that an anganwadi worker’s son will become the student’s union president. Our general secretary’s father sold bangles on the streets. He was from Odisha and did not even know Hindi well.A lot of critical run-ins with the current government has played out in universities — Hyderabad and JNU being two examples. Do you think the government is scared of students.If we look back, we will find that the first person to speak against sati was a student, who said that his sister will not sit on her husband’s pyre. When widow remarriage was being talked about, it was a student who first came forward to marry a widow.I will quote Swami Vivekananda here. He said: “A youth is one who moves against the tide.”What are your plans for the future? Tell us about your PhD.This is my last year in JNU, and my PhD is on social transformation in South Africa. I did my masters in sociology, and worked on Francophone in Senegal during my MPhil, and now I’m working on Anglophone, with a focus on Mandela’s political revolution. There are a lot of similarities between India and South Africa.Being a student, I want to submit my PhD because I will be the first one in my family to do so. It is now the biggest movement guiding my life. I want to be a teacher — I love interacting with children.Many parties have been keen on you joining them; you even campaigned for Nitish.A friend from JNU was fighting elections from Kerala, and I went there because of him. I never campaigned for any party.I have had several offers from parties. Even now, some of the most popular and established voices within the BJP have shown keen interest in meeting me. But, I think this is not the right time. This is the time for a revolution, and if I reduce myself for electoral gains, it will be not right. I have to work for the betterment of education, against the privatisation of education. I am not against private universities, but don’t hand over institutions like JNU and the IITs to private players.Young people with degrees who cannot live a full life think that ending their lives is the answer. That’s how someone becomes a Kasab.What are your thoughts in the Najeeb Ahmed case?A lot of untoward incidents have taken place in JNU earlier, too. But, these days, any sort of misshapen manipulated to mislead people. In Najeeb’s case, the state has a role, and so does the media. The manipulation is creating a trust deficit. Students fight within the university, and it has never happened that any student has disappeared.If the police could find buffaloes, dogs and in one case, a minister’s jackfruit, there’s no reason why it cannot find a student. This creates a frustration among the minorities. There was such dirty politics over Akhlaq’s death; there has not been justice till now.I am scared in Najeeb’s case. If the worst happens, JNU will explode.

DRI seizes banned drug worth over Rs 3000 crore; Bollywood producer arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its biggest-ever drug seizure, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has seized a huge haul of banned narcotic substance worth over Rs 3,000 crore from a factory in Udaipur and also arrested Bollywood producer Subash Dudhani in this connection.On October 28, DRI officials raided the premises of Udaipur-based Marudhar Drinks and detected a room filled with cartons of banned Mandrax tablets. “The total number of tablets are estimated to be about 2 crore in numbers with a weight of about 23.5 metric tonnes. The international market value of seized tablets is estimated to be over Rs 3,000 crore,” CBEC chairperson Najib Shah said.This is the biggest ever drug seizure done by DRI, the investigative arm of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). “We have arrested the mastermind and efforts are underway to nab others involved with the drug syndicate,” he said.Shah said that Subhas Dudhani, who has produced Bollywood films, also had businesses and properties in Mumbai.The information came to DRI Mumbai and then it was traced to Udaipur and with active assistance from Border Security Force (BSF), the mastermind was arrested.The drug is commonly known as Mandrax,M-Pills, buttons or smarties and is usually smoked mixed with cannabis. It is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. “The consignment was manufactured in Rajasthan and consigned for Mozambique or South Africa,” he said.In last 5 years, the DRI has seized more than 540 kgs of heroin and 7,409 kgs of ephedrine along with other narcotics and psychotropic substances.In recent past, the DRI has also neutralised 10 other factories manufacturing synthetic drugs like Mephedrone, Ketamine, Alprazolam and Ephedrine, across several states.

India, China discord among issues that could capsize BRICS: China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India-China differences and their discord over Pakistan are among differences in the BRICS that could “capsize” the grouping if the member nations fail to address competition and disagreements among them, Chinese media said. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations, “while achieving substantial benefits through their joint efforts, must also face up to the divergence in their interests, which has given rise to concerns that the group is losing its shine”, an article in state-run Global Times on the Goa BRICS summit said. “Territorial disputes between China and India have been an obstinate disease between the two sides. Additionally, some Indians believe that China supports Pakistan, which is viewed as tantamount to supporting terrorism,” it said. “It has been argued that the BRICS members face three key issues: the lack of a solid foundation for shared interests, a weak cooperation mechanism and external pressures. If the member countries aren’t careful enough, they might capsize while sailing around the world,” the article said. In regards to shared interests, “competition and disagreement between the BRICS nations have been an impediment”, said the article titled ‘BRICS need to address challenges to strengthen ties’ written by a think-tank from Renmin University. “The five emerging countries all value exports and foreign investment, resulting in inevitable collisions and friction as they compete for resources, market footholds and foreign investment inflows,” it said. Accusing India, Brazil and South of Africa “sending signals of trade protectionism”, it said the three “often seek to launch anti-dumping probes against China”. “India and Brazil have been among the countries that have implemented the biggest number of protectionist measures against China,” it said. Yet another impeding factor is the divergent political and economic pursuits among BRICS states, it said. Brazil and South Africa hope that cooperation within BRICS will boost their regional influence both politically and economically, while Russia cares more about the BRICS’ political and strategic importance, it said. “The second risk that BRICS faces is an insufficient cooperation mechanism. In addition to the recently concluded eighth annual BRICS summit in Goa, many ministerial meetings are held annually. “However, the grouping of BRICS remains a loose union lacking stability. There is yet to be any institutions such as a secretariat or any guidelines and procedures designed for BRICS cooperation,” it said. “Ever since the launch of BRICS, Western countries have never ceased courting or alienating individual BRICS countries or elbowing them out from participating in the global governance. India has always been a target for the US to contain BRICS members within the club of emerging powers. By launching the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trade in Services Agreement, the US aims to isolate BRICS countries, putting more pressure on developing countries,” it said.

Mewa Ramgobin, South African struggle stalwart and Gandhian activist passes away

Johannesburg: South African struggle icon and husband of Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter Mewa Ramgobin has died at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness.

Ramgobin, the former president of the Natal Indian Congress which fought discrimination against Indians in South Africa, breathed his last at a Cape Town hospital on Monday. A family member said he was admitted to hospital on 8 October and was doing well until two days ago.

Mewa Ramgobin was a prominent Gandhian activists and a South African struggle stalwart. Getty ImagesMewa Ramgobin was a prominent Gandhian activists and a South African struggle stalwart. Getty Images

Mewa Ramgobin was a prominent Gandhian activists and a South African struggle stalwart. Getty Images

Ramgobin was married to Ela Gandhi, a human rights activist and Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter. A former African National Congress member of Parliament until 2009, he was among the first supporters of the Release Mandela campaign. He was charged for treason in 1985. The couple was involved in the activities of the Phoenix Settlement Trust that was established in 1904 by Gandhi near Durban during his tenure in South Africa.

Just hours before Ramgobin’s death, Ela had departed for Sweden with one of their daughters Asha who is due to receive an honorary degree there. Their son Kidar said family members were meeting on Tuesday to discuss funeral arrangements, as his mother and sister were due to return only on Sunday.

Ramgobin’s role in politics started in his teenage years, and continued when he enrolled at the University of Natal. He was among the first to join the Release Mandela Campaign after the infamous treason trial that sent Nelson Mandela to prison for 27 years before he became South Africa’s first democratically-elected president.

Ramgobin faced intense persecution from apartheid-era security forces which banned him for 17 years, many of those under complete house arrest. He also faced high treason charges after riots broke out in 1994 near the Phoenix Settlement between Indians and the indigenous Zulu community which had lived peacefully side-by side for decades, but was acquitted a year later.

Ramgobin’s commitment to the Gandhian cause saw him establish a Gandhi museum and library, organising the Annual Gandhi Lecture and educate people from different race groups on Gandhian philosophies. An author of books ‘Waiting To Live’ and ‘Prisms Of Light’, he would have turned 84 on 10 November.

In 1983, Ramgobin made international headlines when he and five other members of the resistance movement United Democratic Front sought refuge in the British consulate.

After Mandela’s election, Ramgobin served for several years in the first Parliament of South Africa that was not exclusively white as in the apartheid years.

Brics Goa Summit: Real test lies in meeting goals, not treat them as rhetoric

The eighth Brics Summit (attended by the heads of the governments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has just concluded in Goa.

Going by the news coverage (both print and television), one got an impression as if the summit’s sole focus was to evolve a mechanism to fight the menace of terrorism in the world. That there was no consensus on the subject among the five leaders – Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma — particularly in naming some leading terrorists of the world and their supporters, has been highlighted in the media the most. But then the fact remains that combating “global terror” was only one item of the lengthy agenda at the summit.

What about the rest?

The summit concluded with a 109-point Goa Declaration. It has emphasised: “The importance of further strengthening Brics solidarity and cooperation based on our common interests and key priorities to further strengthen our strategic partnership in the spirit of openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. We agree that emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development require further enhancing of our collective efforts.” In other words, what the five leaders, representing nearly 2/3rd of the world’s population, deliberated on the identification of many major global challenges and how to meet these challenges. Obviously, these challenges related to three major areas — global politics, security and economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Brics leaders in Goa. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Brics leaders in Goa. PTI

And, as in the past summits, the one in Goa turned out to be a platform to express dissatisfaction with the shortcomings in the system of global governance, but it did not project itself as “a vehicle to overturn the system itself”. This point needs to be emphasised, for there is a wrong notion that Brics is meant to be an alternative to the global institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In fact, the Goa Declaration said, “We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including through consistent and universal respect and adherence to the principles and rules of international law in their inter-relation and integrity, compliance by all states with their international legal obligations.”

They further added, “We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.”

On the economic challenges, the Brics leaders at Goa “welcome(ed) the adoption of landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals during the UN Summit on Sustainable Development on 25 September, 2015 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.” They talked of “the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted during G20 Hangzhou Summit and commit to its implementation by taking bold transformative steps through both collective and individual concrete actions.”

Importantly, they reiterated their “determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal, and structural, individually and collectively, to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. Monetary policy will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central bank’s mandates. Monetary policy alone, though, cannot lead to balanced and sustainable growth. We, in this regard, underscore the essential role of structural reforms. We emphasise that our fiscal policies are equally important to support our common growth objectives. We also take note that the spill-over effects of certain policy measures in some systemically important advanced economies can have adverse impact on growth prospects of emerging economies.”

Few can find faults with goalposts set by the Brics leaders in Goa. However, the real test lies in the cooperative endeavours at realising the goals by not treating them as rhetoric. And on this front, the report card of the Brics has not been very impressive. The Goa summit proved that China was not exactly in tune with India’s concerns over terrorism. Though the Goa Declaration did talk of the need for reforms in the United Nations, the fact remains that China has a completely different view from the rest four on the expansion of the UN Security Council.

On the economic front, while they all may agree on the better functioning of the World Bank, greater transparency of the IMF, non-discriminatory global trade and the developed countries “honouring” their ODA (Official Development Assistance) commitments to achieve 0.7% of Gross National Income commitment for the developing countries; the bitter truth is that the five Brics are not in a position to fulfill their own commitments for the structural reforms of their respective economies. Each one of them has its own peculiar domestic and regional challenges. China and Russia have essentially authoritarian systems of governance, whereas India, South Africa and Brazil are democracies where taking hard decisions are, more often than not, slow and politically risky.

This is particularly true of South Africa and Brazil. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party has suffered its worst election result in the recent local elections since it came to power in 1994, threatening its rule in several of the country’s biggest cities. Its vote share has sunk to 55 percent, which is humiliating for President Jacob Zuma, who is surrounded by a number of scandals and been blamed by many for overseeing a corrupt administration. And this is no good news for the South African economy.

According to The The Economist magazine, with the weakening of President Zuma’s position, “economic growth will remain subdued in 2016, at 0.5%, held back by power shortages” and “growth will edge up to average 1.8% a year in 2017-20 as constraints ease gradually. The current-account deficit will be a source of concern, leaving the country reliant on foreign capital to plug the hole.”

Similarly, with the recent impeachment of the elected President Dilma Roussseff, Brazil is at a crossroad. Vice-President Temer has ascended to the Presidency at a time when Brazil continues under a period of turmoil. The country has been under recession, with Brazil’s economy contracting by 3.8 percent in 2015, and that figure could be matched in 2016. Inflation hit 10 percent by the end of 2015, and the fiscal deficit has also reached double digits. These economic challenges could have been addressed with decisive policy reforms, but the ongoing political crisis has led to a complete government gridlock.

Even Russia’s economy is not in the best of shape these days. Russia is also in some sort of recession as oil prices tailspin and Western sanctions following its takeover of Crimea really pinch. That leaves only China and India that are witnessing still respectable annual growth rates. But then, the fact remains that from around more than 10 percent annual rate of growth, China has come down now to less than 7 percent. India’s growth rate at 7.6 percent is the highest among all the Brics countries. But seen overall, the growth rate of Brics is really a disappointment compared to what it was estimated at originally.

It may be noted that in 2001, Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill had coined the term “Bric” (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to encapsulate what he predicted would be the four most dynamic emerging market economies of the new century. For him then, these countries (he saw their grouping to be a purely economic entity) would have extraordinary growth rates and there would be tremendous investment opportunities. Then the Bric liked the idea so much that they formed an official club (2009). Later they invited South Africa and became Brics (South Africa joined their ranks in 2011.) But the irony is that rating agencies like the Goldman Sachs are highly disappointed today with the Brics’ uneven economic performance in recent years (in fact, following the years of losses, Goldman Sachs closed its “Bric fund” in November 2015). So much so that the Brics has doubted their objectivity and is thinking of creating a ‘Brics credit rating agency’ (Modi is a big advocate of this idea), an idea on which the five heads of government could not reach a consensus in Goa.

Of course, to its credit, the Brics has created the New Development Bank (NDB), a $100 billion lending platform that will finance infrastructure projects in the Brics and other developing countries, and a $100 billion currency pool known as the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which will aim to cushion the Brics economies from global financial pressures. The bank, which went operational last year, with leading Indian banker KV Kamath as its first head, has already done $900 million lending for renewable energy projects in Brics countries and is targeting at $2.5 billion lending for the coming calendar year. However, consensus eluded in Goa on establishing the connectivity between the NDB and the export-import banks of the member countries to facilitate trade among them. All told, the intra-Brics trade is not that healthy. For instance, in 2015, China had more trade with the United States alone than with its Brics partners combined. It earned $482 billion in exports to the US last year against a modest $244 billion to “the Brics family”.

This is not to suggest that Brics is nothing but “a fairytale”, a term that some Western critics use to describe the grouping. Brics might not have achieved much; but its very existence does signify that there is much to improve on the front of global governance.

In that sense, Daniel Chardell, a research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance Programme at the Council on Foreign Relations, says, “The Brics may just be a symbol, but they are also a symptom of the world’s impatience with business as usual.”

‘Churchill and Gandhi were never going to be friends’: Walter Reid

Editor’s note: In his new book Historian Walter Reid offers another glimpse into the long explored and considered role of the Empire in shaping India’s colonial history. In this extract from the chapter titled ‘Looking Behind Churchill’s Words’, Reid argues that one of the few faults that Winston Churchill had, were found in his treatment of India.

Churchill plays such an important part in this story – first in his opposition to the India Bill and indeed any attempt to advance India’s progress in the 1930s, and then as prime minister, when he presided over (if that’s the correct way to describe his obstructive and negative role) the series of initiatives that included the Cripps Mission and its post-dated cheque – that his standpoint deserves some analysis. He was more complicated than most of the diehards, but understanding his position helps to understand what motivated some of his simpler supporters.

Churchill’s faults were few and his virtues were abundant. The former, alas, were more evident than the latter in relation to India. I yield to no one in my admiration for Churchill, and my admiration is not confined to his role in the Second World War. I have summarised his qualities elsewhere. I said, ‘The scale and range of his abilities was matched by a profound sense of humanity and magnanimity’.

I stand by that evaluation of his career taken as a whole. But that is not to say that he never faltered, and India was not his finest hour. It is all the more delicious to reflect that Baldwin, apparently genuinely, toyed with the idea of making him Secretary of State. The prime minister wrote to Irwin in February 1929: ‘I have had an idea (among many!) of putting Winston at the India Office. He was very good all through the Irish troubles: he has imagination, courage: he is an imperialist: he is a Liberal. BUT – we do know the risk’.

He was ambitious and aggressive in his self-promotion. Lloyd George said of him in 1934: ‘He would make a drum out of the skin of his own mother in order to sound his own praises’. He was for most of the 1930s a potential leader of his party, and an element of his Indian campaign was certainly informed by selfish ambition. Paradoxically, the campaign threw him into such ‘a politically ruinous stance’ that it, more even than his defence of Edward VIII, so endangered his political career that only war rescued him. Harold Macmillan, from the Left of the Conservative party said, ‘The majority of the party regarded [Churchill’s] attitude as reactionary and unrealistic’.88 Other critics described him as unbalanced, scheming and dishonest.

In his exuberance he expressed himself in words and attitudes that were extreme, indeed downright silly. For instance in 1942 he said to Leo Amery, then Secretary of State for India: ‘I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.’ His positions in opposition were always less judicious than when they were tempered by the responsibility of office. All responsibility tended to refine his judgment and absolute responsibility tended to refine it absolutely. But only tended to: in the case of India he was so far committed before he became prime minister that the beneficial restraint of authority had only a limited effect.

He was in part simply a product of his time. In his autobiography, MyEarly Life, Churchill described himself as ‘a friend of the Victorian era’. Much later in his life, in 1952, he reflected to his doctor, Charles Wilson, ‘When you learn to think of a race as inferior beings it is difficult to get rid of that way of thinking; when I was a subaltern in India the Indians did not seem to me equal to the white man’. Irwin recognised the influence of Churchill’s youth. He suggested that his views on India were like those of ‘a subaltern a generation ago’, and that therefore he might like to bring himself up to date by meeting some Indian activists who were in London at the time. ‘I’m quite satisfied with my views on India. I don’t want them disturbed by any bloody Indian.’

Paul Addison has concluded that Churchill’s fundamental views were settled in the period between 1895, when he decided to make his career in politics, and 1900 when he became a Member of Parliament. Addison is of the view that of all the books which Churchill read so voraciously at this time in order to prepare himself for public life, the one which made most impact on him was Winwood Reade’s The Martyrdom of Man. This book was published in 1872 and was based on the implications of the then popular notion of Social Darwinism. The nub of Reade’s version of the theory was that advance took place by a process of struggle and striving, of which warfare was the epitome. Suffering was a price worth paying. When a nation lost the appetite for conflict it was doomed to decay.

Churchill saw the collapse of anciens régimes in and after 1918 as a symptom of decay and decline, evidence of a lack of the desire to strive. He did not wish to see Britain entering a similar phase. This was the philosophy Keeping the Jewel in the Crown which, in part, animated him in his campaign against the India Bill. In the course of that campaign he said that if Britain lost India she would sink within two generations to the level of minor powers like Portugal. So she did, though the loss of India was not the cause.

Even before the First World War he had concluded that Britain derived no financial benefit from India, and his desire to hang on to the jewel in the crown was not motivated by commercial considerations. In February 1922 he told a conference of ministers:

An idea was prevalent among many people, both in India and at home, that we were fighting a rear-guard action in India, that the British Raj was doomed, and that India would gradually be handed over to the Indians. He was strongly opposed to that view of the situation. On the contrary, we must strengthen our position in India . . . He believed that opinion would change soon as to the expediency of granting democratic institutions to backward races which had no capacity for self-government.

His approach was not entirely uninformed. Remember that Churchill’s first government office was as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies under Campbell-Bannerman. He was appointed in December 1905. He had then had recent experience of the Empire not only in the South African War, but also in India as a subaltern. He had more authority as Under-Secretary of State than might have been expected, as the Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Elgin, was in the House of Lords and more interested in his estates than in the minutiae of his responsibilities. At the Colonial Office, of course, neither Elgin nor Churchill had responsibility for India. Churchill did, however, have to deal with Gandhi, at this stage in his career in South Africa promoting the case of the Indian community, there subject to numerous indignities and constraints. Gandhi came to London in November 1906, to complain that Indians were now being fingerprinted as part of their official registration in South Africa. He went back to South Africa to launch a campaign of passive resistance. Churchill and Gandhi were never going to be friends.

Excerpted with permission from ‘Keeping the Jewel in the Crown’ by Penguin Books India.

Full text of Goa declaration adopted at 8th BRICS Summit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>We, the Leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on 15-16 October 2016 in Goa, India, at the Eighth BRICS Summit, which was held under the theme “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”Recalling all our previous declarations, we emphasise the importance of further strengthening BRICS solidarity and cooperation based on our common interests and key priorities to further strengthen our strategic partnership in the spirit of openness, solidarity,equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. We agree that emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development require further enhancing of our collective efforts.We agree that BRICS countries represent an influential voice on the global stage through our tangible cooperation, which delivers direct benefits to our people. In this context, we note with satisfaction the operationalisation of the New Development Bank (NDB) and of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which contributes greatly to the global economy and the strengthening of the international financial architecture. We welcome the report presented by NDB President on the work of the Bank during the first year of its operations. We are pleased to note the progress in operationalising the Africa Regional Centre (ARC) of the NDB and pledge our full support in this regard. We look forward to developing new BRICS initiatives in a wider range of areas in the years to come.We note with appreciation the approval of the first set of loans by the New Development Bank (NDB), particularly in the renewable energy projects in BRICS countries. We express satisfaction with NDB’s issuance of the first set of green bonds in RMB. We are pleased to note that the operationalisation of BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangements (CRA) has strengthened the global financial safety net.In order to reach out and enrich our understanding and engagement with fellow developing and emerging economies, we will hold an Outreach Summit of BRICS Leaders with the Leaders of BIMSTEC member countries – Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation comprising of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The meeting will be an opportunity to renew our friendship with BIMSTEC countries as well as to jointly explore possibilities of expanding trade and commercial ties,and investment cooperation between BRICS and BIMSTEC countries,while advancing our common goals of peace, development, democracy and prosperity.We reiterate our common vision of ongoing profound shifts in the world as it transitions to a more just, democratic, and multi-polar international order based on the central role of the United Nations, and respect for international law. We reaffirm the need for strengthening coordination of efforts on global issues and practical cooperation in the spirit of solidarity, mutual understanding and trust. We underline the importance of collective efforts in solving international problems, and for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means, and in this regard, we reiterate our commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.We note the global character of current security challenges and threats confronting the international community. We reiterate our view that international efforts to address these challenges, the establishment ofsustainable peace as well as the transition to a more just, equitable and democratic multi-polar international order requires a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach, based on spirit of solidarity, mutual trust and benefit, equity and cooperation, strong commitment to international law and the central role of the United Nations as the universal multilateral organisation entrusted with the mandate for maintaining international peace and security, advance global development and to promote and protect human rights. We underline the importance of further strengthening coordination of our efforts in this context.We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including through consistent and universal respect and adherence to the principles and rules of international law in their inter-relation and integrity, compliance by all states with their international legal obligations.We express our commitment to resolutely reject the continued attempts to misrepresent the results of World War II. We recall further that development and security are closely interlinked, mutually reinforcing and key to attaining sustainable peace.We remain confident that resolving international problems require collective efforts for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means. Implementation of principles of good-faith, sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and cooperation excludes imposition of unilateral coercive measures not based on international law. We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasise the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.We recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome document. We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.We welcome the substantive measures undertaken by the UN membership to make the process of selecting and appointing the UN Secretary-General more transparent and inclusive.We express our gratitude to UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his contributions to the United Nations in the past ten years. We congratulate Mr. AntónioGuterres, on his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations and express our support and to work closely with him.Cognizant of BRICS countries’ significant contributions to UN Peacekeeping operations, and recognising the important role of UN Peacekeeping operations in safeguarding international peace and security, we realise the challenges faced by UN Peacekeeping and emphasise the need to further strengthen its role, capacity, effectiveness, accountability and efficiency, while adhering to the basic principles of peacekeeping. We emphasise that UN Peacekeeping operations should perform the duty of protection of civilians in strict accordance with their respective mandates and in respect of the primary responsibility of the host countries in this regard.We are deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We support all effortsfor finding ways to the settlement of the crises in accordance with international law and in conformity with the principles of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region. On Syria, we call upon all parties involved to work for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the conflict taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria,through inclusive national dialogue and a Syrian-led political process based on Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 and in pursuance of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and 2268 for their full implementation.While continuing the relentless pursuit against terrorist groups so designated by the UN Security Council including ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organisations designated by the UN Security Council.We reiterate also the necessity to implement the two-state solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the relevant UNSC resolutions, the Madrid Principles and Arab Peace Initiative, and previous agreements between the two sides,through negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State livingside-by-side in peace with Israel, withinsecure, mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders on the basis of 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as envisaged in the relevant UN Resolutions.We express deep concern at the persisting security challenges in Afghanistan and significant increase in terrorist activities in Afghanistan. We affirm support to the efforts of the Afghan Government to achieve Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national reconciliation and combat terrorism, and readiness for constructive cooperation in order to facilitate security in Afghanistan, promote its independent political and economic course, becoming free from terrorism and drug trafficking. The Leaders expressed the view that capable and effective Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should be the key to the stabilisation of Afghanistan. In this regard, the Leaders emphasised the need for continued commitment of regional countries and wider international community, including the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, which as the ISAF’s heir has a key role in the ANSF capacity-building. The Leaders stressed the importance of multilateral region-led interaction on Afghan issues, primarily by those organisations, which consist of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and other regional states, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Heart of Asia Conference.We welcome the African Union’s (AU) vision, aspirations, goals and priorities for Africa’s development enshrined in Agenda 2063, which is complementary with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We reaffirm our support for Africa’s implementation of its various programmesin pursuit of its continental agenda for peace and socio economic development. We will continue to engage in joint endeavours to advance Africa’s solidarity, unity and strength through support measures for regional integration and sustainable development.We further welcome recent elections that have been held in the continent and the peaceful manner in which they were conducted.We support the AU’s efforts to resolving conflicts through its peace and security architecture, in collaboration with the United Nations and the continent’s regional organisations, and to contribute towards lasting and sustainable peace and security in Africa.We welcome the decision of the African Union’s Assembly to operationalise its Peace Fund, in order to contribute to financing of its peace and security operations. We support efforts aimed at full operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and note the progress being made in this regard, including the contributions by the African Capacity for Immediate Responses to Crises (ACIRC).We express our concern that political and security instability continues to loom in a number of countries that is exacerbated by terrorism and extremism.We call upon the international community through the United Nations, African Union and regional and international partners to continue their support in addressing these challenges, including post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.We welcome the adoption of landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals during the UN Summit on Sustainable Development on 25 September 2015 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. We welcome the people-centred and holistic approach to sustainable development enshrined in the 2030 Agenda and its emphasis on equality, equity and quality-life to all. We welcome the reaffirmation of the guiding principles of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).The 2030 Agenda, with its overarching focus on poverty eradication, lays an equal and balanced emphasis on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. We call upon developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistance commitments to achieve 0.7% of Gross National Income commitment for Official Development Assistance to developing countries. Those commitments play a crucial role in the implementation of the SDGs. We further welcome the establishment of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism within the UN with a mandate to facilitate technology for the implementation of the SDGs.We commit to lead by example in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development inline with national circumstances and development context respecting the national policy space. We welcome the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted during G20 Hangzhou Summit and commit to its implementation by taking bold transformative steps through both collective and individual concreteactions.We meet at a time when the global economic recovery is progressing, with improved resilience and emergence of new sources of growth.The growth, though is weaker than expected with downside risks to the global economy continuing to persist.This gets reflected in a variety of challenges including commodity price volatility, weak trade, high private and public indebtedness, inequality and lack of inclusiveness of economic growth. Meanwhile, the benefits from growth need to be shared broadly in an inclusive manner. Geopolitical conflicts, terrorism, refugee flows, illicit financial flows and the outcome of UK referendum have further added to the uncertainty in the global economy.We reiterate our determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal, and structural, individually and collectively, to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. Monetary policy will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central bank’s mandates. Monetary policy alone, though, cannot lead to balanced and sustainablegrowth. We, in this regard, underscore the essential role of structural reforms.We emphasise that our fiscal policies are equally important to support our common growth objectives. We also take note that the spill-over effects ofcertain policy measures in some systemically important advanced economies can have adverse impact on growth prospects of emerging economies.We recognise that innovation is a key driver for mid and long term growth and sustainable development. We stress the importance of industrialisation and measures that promote industrial development as a core pillar of structural transformation.We highlight the need to use tax policy and public expenditure in a more growth-friendly way taking into account fiscal space available, that promotes inclusiveness, maintains resilience and ensures sustainability of debt as a share of GDP.We note the dynamic integration processes across the regions of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America.We affirm our belief to promote growth in the context of regional integration on the basis of principles of equality, openness and inclusiveness. We further believe that this will promote economic expansion through enhanced trade,commercial and investmentlinkages.We highlight the importance of public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity,to ensure sustained long-term growth. We, in this regard, call for approaches to bridge the financing gap in infrastructure including through enhanced involvement of Multilateral Development Banks.We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, quota based and adequately resourced IMF. Borrowed resources by the IMF should be on a temporary basis. We remain strongly committed to support the coordinated effort by the emerging economies to ensure that the Fifteenth General Review of Quotas, including the new quota formula, will be finalised within the agreed timelines so as to ensure that the increased voice of the dynamic emerging and developing economies reflects their relative contributions to the world economy, while protecting the voices of least developed countries (LDCs), poor countries and regions.We welcome the inclusion of the RMB into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket on 1October, 2016.We call for the advanced European economies to meet their commitment to cede two chairs on the Executive Board of the IMF. The reform of the IMF should strengthen the voice and representation of the poorest members of the IMF, including Sub-Saharan Africa.We share concerns regarding the challenges of sovereign debt restructurings, and note that timely and successful debt restructuring is key for ensuring access to international capital markets, and hence economic growth, for countries with high debt levels. We welcome the current discussions to improve the debt restructuring process,and on the revised collective action clauses (CACs).We reiterate our support for the multilateral trading system and the centrality of the WTO as the cornerstone of a rule based, open, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral trading system with development at the core ofits agenda. We note the increasing number ofbilateral, regional, and plurilateral trade agreements, and reiterate that these should be complementary to the multilateral trading system and encourage the parties thereon to align their work in consolidating the multilateral trading system under the WTO in accordance with the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and compatibility with the WTO rules.We emphasise the importance of implementing the decisions taken at the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial Conferences. We stress the need to advance negotiations on the remaining Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues as a matter of priority. We call on all WTO members to work together to ensure a strong development oriented outcome for MC11 and beyond.We appreciate the progress in the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership and emphasise the importance of the BRICS Roadmap for Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation until 2020. We believe that close cooperation between the sectoral cooperation mechanisms, BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues, the BRICS Business Council, New Development Bank and the BRICS Interbank cooperation mechanism is crucial in strengthening the BRICS economic partnership. We welcome, in this context, the continued realisation of the major BRICS economic initiatives such as enhanced cooperation in e-commerce, “single window”, IPR cooperation, trade promotion and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).We recognise non-tariff measures (NTMs),services sector, and standardisation and conformity assessments as possible areas of future cooperation.We note in this context the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers in New Delhi on 13 October 2016 and welcome its substantive outcomes.In operationalising the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, we encourage measures that support greater participation, value addition and upward mobility in Global Value Chains of our firms including through the preservation of policy space to promote industrial development.We welcome India’s initiative to host the first BRICS Trade Fair in New Delhi. This is an important step towards the implementation of Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership. We believe this will further consolidate trade and commercial partnership among BRICS countries. We welcome the deliberations and outcome of the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers held on October 13, 2016 in New Delhi.We noted the Annual Report by the BRICS Business Council, including the various initiatives undertaken by its Working Groups. We further direct the Council to accelerate the development and realisation of joint projects which, on a mutually beneficial basis, contribute to the economic objectives of BRICS.We agreed that MSMEs provide major employment opportunities, at comparatively lower capital cost, and create self-employment opportunities in rural and underdeveloped areas. MSMEs thus help assure equitable wealth distribution nationally and globally. We commend organisation of BRICSsecond round-table on MSMEs by India with a focus on technical and business alliances in MSMEs Sector. We agree to work for greater integration of MSMEs in Regional and Global Value Chains.We commend China for the successful hosting of the 11th G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou and its focus on innovation, structural reform and development as drivers of medium and long term economic growth. We recognise the role of G20 as the premier forum for international and financial cooperation and emphasise the importance of the implementation of the outcomes of G20 Hangzhou Summit, that we believe will foster strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth and will contribute to improved global economic governance and enhance the role of developing countries.We stress the importance to foster an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.We will enhance our consultations and coordination on the G20 agenda, especially on issues of mutual interest to the BRICS countries, and promote issues of importance for the Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs). We will continue to work closely with all G20 members to strengthen macro-economic cooperation, promote innovation, as well as robust and sustainable trade and investment to propel global growth,improve global economic governance,enhance the role of developing countries,strengthen international financial architecture,support for industrialisation in Africa and least developed countries and enhance cooperation on energy access and efficiency. We stress the need for enhanced international cooperation to address illicit cross-border financial flows, tax evasion and trade mis-invoicing.The role of BRICS and its collaborative efforts in the field of economic and financial co-operation are yielding positive results. We emphasise the importance of our cooperation in order to help stabilise the global economy and to resume growth.We welcome experts exploring the possibility of setting up an independent BRICS Rating Agency based on market-oriented principles, in order to further strengthen the global governance architecture.We welcome the reports of BRICS Think Tanks Council and BRICS Academic Forum that have emerged as valuable platforms for our experts to exchange views. They have submitted their valuable suggestions with regard to promoting market research and analysis in BRICS and developing countries and exploring possibilities of carrying this process forward.We believe that BRICS institution-building is critical to our shared vision of transforming the global financial architecture to one based on the principles of fairness and equity.We emphasise the importance of enhancing intra-BRICS cooperation in the industrial sector, including through the BRICS Industry Ministers Meetings, in order to contribute to the accelerated and sustainable economic growth, the strengthening of comprehensive industrial ties, the promotion of innovation as well as job creation, and improvement of the quality of life of people in BRICS countries.We congratulate the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for the 50th anniversary of its foundation and recall its unique mandate to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development and its contribution in promoting industrialisation in Africa. We note, in this context, the progress achieved so far in the establishment of the UNIDO-BRICS Technology Platform.We commend our Customs administrations on the establishment of the Customs Cooperation Committee of BRICS,and on exploring means of further enhancing collaboration in the future, including those aimed at creating legal basis for customs cooperation and facilitating procedures of customs control. We note the signing of the Regulations on Customs Cooperation Committee of the BRICS in line with the undertaking in the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership to strengthen interaction among Customs Administrations.We recall the Fortaleza Declaration wherein we recognised the potential for BRICS insurance and reinsurance markets to pool capacities and had directed our relevant authorities to explore avenues for cooperation in this regard. We would like this work to be expedited.We reaffirm our commitment towards a globally fair and modern tax system and welcome the progress made on effective and widespread implementation of the internationally agreed standards. We support the implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (BEPS) with due regard to the national realities of the countries.We encourage countries and International Organisations to assist developing economies in building their tax capacity.We note that aggressive tax planning and tax practices hurt equitable development and economic growth. Base Erosion and Profit Shiftingmust be effectively tackled. We affirm that profit should be taxed in the jurisdiction where the economic activity is performed and the value is created. We reaffirm our commitment to support international cooperation in this regard, including in the Common Reporting Standard for Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AEOI).We note the ongoing discussions on international taxation matters. In this regard, we recall the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development including its emphasis on inclusive cooperation and dialogue among national tax authorities on international tax matters with increased participation of developing countries and reflecting adequate, equitable, geographical distribution, representing different tax systems.We support the strengthening of international cooperation against corruption, including through the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group, as well as on matters related to asset recovery and persons sought for corruption. We acknowledge that corruption including illicit money and financial flows, and ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions is a global challenge which mayimpact negatively on economic growth and sustainable development. We will strive to coordinate our approach in this regard and encourage a stronger global commitment to prevent and combat corruptionon the basis of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other relevant international legal instruments.We recognise that nuclear energy will play a significant role for some of the BRICS countries in meeting their 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement commitments and for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the long term. In this regard, we underline the importance of predictability in accessing technology and finance for expansion of civil nuclear energy capacity which would contribute to the sustainable development of BRICS countries.We reiterate that outer space shall be free for peaceful exploration and use by all States on the basis of equality in accordance with international law.Reaffirming that outer space shall remain free from any kind of weapons or any use of force, we stress that negotiations for the conclusion of an international agreement or agreements to prevent an arms race in outer space are a priority task of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, and support the efforts to start substantive work, inter alia, based on the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects submitted by China and Russian Federation.We also note an international initiative for a political obligation onthe no first placement of weapons in outer space.Priority should be accorded to ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, as well as ways and means of preserving outer space for future generations. We note that this is an important objective on the current agenda of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). In this respect, we welcome the recent decision by the UNCOPUOS Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities to conclude negotiations and achieve consensus on the full set of guidelines for the long term sustainability of outer space activities by 2018to coincide with the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE + 50).We strongly condemn the recent several attacks, against some BRICS countries, including that in India.We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons. We agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating international terrorism both at the bilateral level and at international fora.To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, we support and emphasise the need for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, including at the Conference on Disarmament.In this context, we welcome India’s offer to host a Conference in 2018 aimed at strengthening international resolve in facing the challenge of the WMD-Terrorism nexus.We call upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, which should include countering violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, including through organised crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terror entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).Successfully combating terrorism requires a holistic approach. All counter-terrorism measures should uphold international law and respect human rights.We acknowledge the recent meeting of the BRICS High Representatives on National Securityand, in this context, welcome the setting up and the first meeting of the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism on September 14, 2016 in New Delhi. We believe it will further promote dialogue and understanding among BRICS nations on issues of counter terrorism, as well as coordinate efforts to address the scourge of terrorism.We acknowledge that international terrorism, especially the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh) and affiliated terrorist groups and individuals, constitute a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. Stressing UN’s central role in coordinating multilateral approaches against terrorism, we urge all nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and reaffirm our commitment on increasing the effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework.We call upon all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay. We recall the responsibility of all States to prevent terrorist actions from their territories.We reaffirm our commitment to the FATF International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation and call for swift, effective and universal implementation of FATF Consolidated Strategy on Combating Terrorist Financing, including effective implementation of its operational plan. We seek to intensify our cooperation in FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs).We welcome the outcome document of the Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, held in New York from 19-21 April 2016. We call for strengthening of international and regional cooperation and coordination to counter the global threat caused by the illicit production and trafficking of drugs, especiallyopiates. We note with deep concern the increasing links between drug trafficking and terrorism, money laundering and organised crime. We commend the cooperation between BRICS drug control agencies and welcome the deliberations in second Anti-Drug Working Group Meeting held in New Delhi on 8 July 2016.We reaffirm that ICT expansion is a key enabler for sustainable development, for international peace and security and for human rights. We agree to strengthen joint efforts to enhance security in the use of ICTs, combating the use of ICTs for criminal and terrorist purposes and improving cooperation between our technical, law enforcement, R&D and innovation in the field of ICTs and capacity building institutions. We affirm our commitment to bridging digital and technological divides, in particular between developed and developing countries. We recognise that our approach must be multidimensional and inclusive and contains an evolving understanding of what constitutes access, emphasising the quality of that access.We reiterate that the use and development of ICTs through international and regional cooperation and on the basis of universally accepted norms and principles of international law, including the Charter of the UN; in particular political independence, territorial integrity and sovereign equality of States, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, non-interference in internal affairs of other States as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy; are of paramount importance in order to ensure a peaceful, secure and openand cooperative use of ICTs.The increasing misuse of ICTs for terrorist purposes poses a threat to international peace and security. We emphasise the need to enhance international cooperation against terrorist and criminal misuse of ICTs and reaffirm the general approach laid in the eThekwini, Fortaleza and Ufa declarations in this regard. We reaffirm the key role of the UN in addressing the issues related to the security in the use of ICTs. We will continue to work together for the adoption of the rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of States including through the process of UNGGE. We recognise that the states have the leading role to ensure stability and security in the use of ICTs.We advocate also for an open, non-fragmented and secure Internet, and reaffirm that the Internet is a global resource and that States should participate on an equal footing in its evolution and functioning,taking into account the need to involve relevant stakeholders in their respective roles and responsibilities.We recognise the importance of energy-saving and energy-efficiency for ensuring sustainable economic development and welcome the Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in this regard.We recognise the challenge of scaling-up power generation and its efficient distribution, as well as the need to scale up low carbon fuels and other clean energy solutions. We further recognise the level of investments needed in renewable energy in this regard. We therefore believe that international cooperation in this field be focused on access to clean energy technology and finance. We further note the significance of clean energy in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. We recognise that sustainable development, energy access, and energy security are critical to the shared prosperity and future of the planet. We acknowledge that clean and renewable energy needs to be affordable to all.We support a wider use of natural gas as an economically efficient and clean fuel to promote sustainable development as well as to reduce the greenhouse emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement on climate change.We note that BRICS countries face challenges of communicable diseases including HIV and Tuberculosis. We, in this regard, note the efforts made by BRICS Health Ministers to achieve the 90–90–90 HIV treatment target by 2020. We underline the imperative to advance cooperation and action on HIV and TB in the BRICS countries, including in the production of quality-assured drugs and diagnostics.We take note of United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June 2016 and forthcoming Global Conference on TB under WHO auspices in Moscow in 2017.Recognising global health challenges we emphasise the importance of cooperation among BRICS countries in promoting research and development of medicines and diagnostic tools to end epidemics and to facilitate access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines.We welcome the High Level meeting on Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) during UNGA-71, which addresses the serious threat that AMR poses to public health, growth and global economic stability. We will seek to identify possibilities for cooperation among our health and/or regulatory authorities, with a view to share best practices and discuss challenges, as well as identifying potential areas for convergence.We reaffirm our commitment to promote a long-term and balanced demographic development and continue cooperation on population related matters in accordance with the Agenda for BRICS Cooperation on Population Matters for 2015-2020.We welcome the outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers held on 9 June 2016 in Geneva and on 27-28 September 2016 in New Delhi. We take note of the possibility of bilateral Social Security Agreements between BRICS countries, and of the commitment to take steps to establish a network of lead labour research and training institutes, so as to encourage capacity building, information exchange and sharing of best practices amongst BRICS countries. We recognise quality employment, including a Decent Work Agenda, sustaining social protection and enhancing rights at work, are core to inclusive and sustainable development.We welcome the outcomes of the fourth BRICS Education Ministers’ meeting held on 30 September 2016 in New Delhi, including the New Delhi Declaration on Education. We stress the importance of education and skills for economic development, and reaffirm the need for universal access to high-quality education. We are satisfied with the progress of the BRICS Network University (BRICSNU) as well as the BRICS University League (BRICSUL), which will commence their programmes in 2017. These two initiatives will facilitate higher education collaboration and partnerships across the BRICS countries.We appreciate the organisation of Young Diplomats’ Forum held on 3-6 September 2016 in Kolkata. We also welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between BRICS Diplomatic Academies to encourage exchange of knowledge and experiences.We welcome the outcomes of the fourth BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting held on 8 October 2016, wherein they adopted theJaipur Declaration and endorsed the updated Work Plan (2015-2018) aimed at strengthening cooperation in science, technology and innovation, especially leveraging young scientific talent for addressing societal challenges; creating a networking platform for BRICS young scientists; co-generating new knowledge and innovative products, services and processes; and addressing common global and regional socio-economic challenges utilising shared experiences and complementarities.We stress the importance of implementation of the BRICS Research and Innovation Initiative. We welcome the hosting of the first BRICS Young Scientists Conclave in India, instituting of BRICS Innovative Idea Prize for Young Scientists.We note the progress of the first Call for Proposals under the BRICS STI Framework Programme, in ten thematic areas, with funding commitment from the five BRICS STI Ministries and associated funding bodies. We welcome the establishment of the BRICS Working Group on Research Infrastructure, and Mega-Science to reinforce the BRICS Global Research Advanced Infrastructure Network (BRICS-GRAIN).We welcome the outcomes of the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting, held on 23 September 2016, including the Joint Declaration. We emphasise the importance of ensuring food security, and addressing malnutrition, eliminating hunger,inequality and poverty through increased agricultural production, productivity, sustainable management of natural resources and trade in agriculture among the BRICS countries. As the world’s leading producers of agriculture products and home to large populations, we emphasise the importance of BRICS cooperation in agriculture.We recognize the importance of science-based agriculture and of deploying information and communication technology (ICT).To further intensify cooperation among BRICS countries in agricultural research policy, science and technology, innovation and capacity building, including technologies for small-holder farming in the BRICS countries, we welcome the signing of the MoU for Establishment of the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform.Considering the dependence of agriculture on water, we call upon the development of infrastructure for irrigation to assist farmers in building resilience during times of drought and welcome sharing of experiences and expertise in these areas.We affirm that the value of sharing expertise and experiences among BRICS countries with regard to usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in e-governance, financial inclusion, and targeted delivery of benefits, e-commerce, open government, digital content and services and bridging the digital divide. We support efforts aimed at capacity building for effective participation in e-commerce trade to ensure shared benefits.We welcome the forthcoming BRICS Telecommunication Ministerial Meeting that will further strengthen our cooperation, including on technology trends, standards developments, skill developments, and policy frameworks.We believe it is necessary to ensure joint efforts towards diversification of the world market of software and IT equipment. We call for developing and strengthening the ICT cooperation in the framework of the BRICS Working Group on ICT Cooperation.We welcome the outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Ministers responsible for Disaster Management held on 19-20 April 2016 in St. Petersburg and on 22 August 2016 in Udaipur. We also welcome the Udaipur Declaration adopted at the second meeting and applaud the formation of BRICS Joint Task Force on Disaster Risk Management.We extend our deepest condolences to the people of Haiti and the Caribbean on the tragic loss of lives following hurricane Matthew. We support the efforts of the UN and humanitarian partners in their response to this tragedy.We welcome the outcomes of the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on Environment held on 15-16 September 2016, in Goa, including the Goa Statement on Environment. We welcome the decision to share technical expertise in the areas of abatement and control of air and water pollution, efficient management of waste and sustainable management of bio-diversity. We recognise the importance of participation by BRICS countries in environmental cooperation initiatives, including developing a platform for sharing environmentally sound technologies.We welcome the outcome of the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a landmark advancement of the regulation of international trade in endangered species from 24 September – 4 October 2016.We welcome the adoption of the Paris Agreement anchored in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and its signing by a large number of countries on 22 April 2016. We emphasise that the comprehensive, balanced and ambitious nature of the Paris Agreement reaffirms the principles of UNFCCC including the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances (CBDR & RC).We welcome the Paris Agreement and its imminent entry into force on 4 November 2016.We call on the developed countries to fulfil their responsibility towards providing the necessary financial resources, technology and capacity building assistance to support the developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.We reiterate the commitments to gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as contained in the 2030 Agenda. We recognise that women play a vital roleas agents of development and acknowledge that their equal and inclusive participation and contribution is crucial to making progress across all Sustainable Development Goals and targets. We emphasise the importance of enhancing accountability for the implementation of these commitments.Cognizant of the potential and diversity of youth population in our countries, their needs and aspirations, we welcome the outcomes of the BRICS Youth Summit in Guwahati including, “Guwahati BRICS Youth Summit 2016 Call to Action” that recognise the importance of education, employment, entrepreneurship, and skills training for them to be socially and economically empowered.We welcome the BRICS Convention on Tourism, that was organised in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh on 1-2 September 2016 as an effective means to promote tourism cooperation among BRICS countries.As home to 43% of the world population and among the fastest urbanising societies, we recognise the multi-dimensional challenges and opportunities of urbanisation. We affirm our engagement in the process that will lead to adoption of a New Urban Agenda by the Conference of the United Nations on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III(Quito, 17-20 October, 2016).We welcome the BRICS Urbanisation Forum, BRICS Friendship Cities Conclave, held in Visakhapatnam on 14-16 September 2016, and in Mumbai on 14-16 April 2016, respectively, which contributed to fostering increased engagements between our cities and stakeholders. We call for enhanced cooperation with regard to strengthening urban governance, making our cities safe and inclusive, improving urban transport, financing of urban infrastructure and building sustainable cities.We note India’s initiative on the upcoming BRICS Local Bodies Conference to exchange expertise and best-practices, including in local budgeting.Noting the importance of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, we welcome the outcomes of first BRICS Migration Ministers Meeting in Sochi, Russian Federation, on 8 October 2015.We recognise the important role of culture in sustainable development and in fostering mutual understanding and closer cooperation among our peoples. We encourage expansion of cultural exchanges between people of BRICS countries. In this context we commend the hosting of the first BRICS Film Festival in New Delhi on 2-6 September 2016.We welcome the forthcoming meeting of the Second BRICS Parliamentary Forum in Geneva on 23 October 2016 under the theme of ‘BRICS Parliamentary Cooperation on the implementation of the SDGs’.We appreciate the deliberations of the BRICS Women Parliamentarians’ Forum in Jaipur on 20-21 August, 2016 and the adoption of Jaipur Declaration, centred on SDGs, that inter alia emphasises the commitment to strengthen parliamentary strategic partnerships on all the three dimensions of sustainable development,fostering gender equality and women empowerment.We note the deliberations on a BRICS Railways Research Network aimed at promoting research and development in this field to further growth in our economies in a cost effective and sustainable manner.We congratulate India on organising the first BRICS Under-17 Football Tournament in Goa on 5-15 October 2016. We,in this regard, note the initiative towards a BRICS Sports Council to foster exchanges among BRICS countries.Recognising the increasing trade, business and investment between BRICS countries and the important role of BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, we welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the BRICS countries National Development Banks and the New Development Bank (NDB). We welcome the initiative of the Export-Import Bank of India of instituting Annual BRICS Economic Research Award to promote advanced research in economics of relevance to BRICS countries.We reiterate our commitment to strengthening our partnerships for common development. To this end, we endorse the Goa Action Plan.China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia appreciate India’s BRICS Chairpersonship and the good pace of BRICS cooperation agenda.We emphasise the importance of review and follow up of implementation of outcome documents and decisions of the BRICS Summits. We task our Sherpas to carry this process forward.China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia express their sincere gratitude to the Government and people of India for hosting the Eighth BRICS Summit in Goa.India, South Africa, Brazil and Russia convey their appreciation to China for its offer to host the Ninth BRICS Summit in 2017 and extend full support to that end.

PM Modi, at summit, calls Pakistan mother-ship of terrorism | Reuters

By Douglas Busvine and Denis Pinchuk
| GOA, India

GOA, India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi branded Pakistan a “mother-ship of terrorism” at a summit of the BRICS nations on Sunday, testing the cohesion of a group whose heavyweight member China is a close ally of India’s arch-rival.Modi’s remarks to a meeting of leaders from the BRICS — which include Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa — escalated his diplomatic drive to isolate Pakistan, which India accuses of sponsoring cross-border terrorism.Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours have been running high since a Sept. 18 attack on an army base in Kashmir, near the disputed frontier with Pakistan, killed 19 Indian soldiers in the worst such assault in 14 years.India later said it had carried out retaliatory “surgical strikes” across the de facto border that inflicted significant casualties. Pakistan denied any role in the attack on the Uri army base, and said the Indian operation had not even happened, dismissing it as typical cross-border firing.”In our own region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development,” Modi said in remarks to BRICS leaders who met at a resort hotel in the western state of Goa.”Tragically, the mother-ship of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood,” the 66-year-old prime minister said, without directly naming Pakistan, in a series of tweets of his remarks issued by the foreign ministry.Modi’s hostile comments were not, however, reflected in a closing statement he read out to reporters.”We were unanimous in recognising the threat that terrorism, extremism and radicalisation presents, not just to the regional and global peace, stability and prosperity,” he said. “But, also to our society, our way of life and humanity as a whole.”

No immediate reaction was available from Pakistan’s foreign ministry.Modi’s posturing overshadowed the gathering of a group that was set up to boost economic cooperation, and made it possible for the nationalist leader to present himself at home as tough on national security.”Modi is aware that such language wouldn’t get the consensus necessary to make it into the final communique. Including it in his speech ensures it gets wide circulation anyway,” said South Asia expert Shashank Joshi.The summit achievements were incremental, and included establishing an agricultural research institute and speeding up work on creating a joint credit ratings agency.

Also on Sunday’s programme was an outreach session with leaders from a little-known group of countries from the Bay of Bengal region whose key attribute, from India’s point of view, is that Pakistan is not a member.LACK OF STRATEGIC RESTRAINT
Modi’s hard line on Pakistan marks a departure from India’s tradition of strategic restraint, and New Delhi has won expressions of support from both the West and Russia over the army base attack.

Yet China, a longstanding ally of Pakistan that plans to build a $46 billion export corridor to the Arabian Sea coast, has been cautious in its comments.Modi and President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting on Saturday evening and accounts of their conversation emerging from both sides pointed to clear differences of opinion.In one remark reported by the state Xinhua news agency, Xi said that China and India should “support each other in participating in regional affairs and enhance cooperation within multilateral frameworks”.The dispatch went on to refer to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This grouping includes Pakistan, which was to have hosted a summit in November that collapsed after India and other members pulled out.The final summit declaration repeated earlier condemnations of “terrorism in all its forms” and devoted several paragraphs to joint effort to fight terrorism. It did not, however, level any blame over the tensions between India and Pakistan.”So far, we haven’t seen any indication at all that China is softening its public support for Pakistan. India did not expect differently,” said Joshi, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. (Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic in Islamabad; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Keith Weir)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

BRICS Summit: PM Modi, Sushma Swaraj reach Panaji

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Panaji, Goa on Friday night ahead of the BRICS Summit scheduled to start on Saturday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reached Panaji. PM Modi will host a state dinner for the visiting heads of states and government of the BRICS and BIMSTEC groups at the iconic beachside luxury hotel ‘Leela Goa’ on Sunday night. While the five-member BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the seven-member BIMSTEC bloc has Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jin Ping of China, Michel Temer of Brazil and Jacob Zuma of South Africa will be dining at the Leela, Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka, Prayut Chan o Cha of Thailand, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Nepal and Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan will be the guests at the hotel.BILATERAL TALKS WITH CHINA, RUSSIAIssues such as India’s NSG membership bid and China blocking UN ban on JeM chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar are likely to be raised by PM Modi during his bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday. A range of key bilateral and international issues including ways to tackle threat of terrorism besides security situation in the region are also likely to figure in the talks on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.India is likely to reaffirm its concerns over growing Russia-Pakistan military ties when PM Modi holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday during which the two sides will look at ramping up their “special and privileged partnership” by inking pacts in areas of defence and nuclear energy.(With Agency Inputs)

Ahead of summit, BRICS Sherpas discuss Goa Declaration, UN reforms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A meeting of BRICS Sherpas to discuss and finalise text of the Goa Declaration and the Goa Action Plan for adoption by the leaders at the Summit took place in Goa on Thursday and would continue their meeting tomorrow as well, said sources. The meeting is chaired by Ministry of External Affairs Ministry Secretary for Economic Relation Amar Sinha, who is the Indian sherpa.The Sherpas discussed several important subjects, including reform of the United Nations and International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and G20 issues, progress on the sustainable development goals, etc, said sources.A particular focus was on intra-BRICS trade, finance and industrial cooperation as well as BRICS cooperation in education, health, agriculture, science, energy and disaster management, whereas terrorism being a common challenge faced by all BRICS counties was an important part of the discussion.The theme of India’s BRICS Chairmanship is ‘Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’ and has been marked by several new initiatives, enhanced people to people contacts and broad basing BRICS Sectoral cooperation. The focus during India’s BRICS Chairmanship will be on enhanced people-to-people (P2P) contacts of BRICS member states, especially youth. In this context, India has planned activities like U-17 Football Tournament, Youth Summit, Young Diplomats’ Forum, Film Festival etc.The Eighth BRICS Summit will be held in Goa on October 15-16, where leaders from all member countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will participate.Divulging detail of the BRICS programme in New Delhi during a media briefing on October 7, Sinha said, “Basically, it is a two-day event on October 15 and 16, and normally, the BRICS Summit starts with an informal dinner, which will be held on October 15 in Goa. At that event, we are also trying to bring all the five captains of the participating teams – because there would be also the final of the Under 17 football tournament – to meet the leaders and, perhaps, to have a photo-op with them.””The main summit day is October 16, which will start with a group photo, and then, a restricted meeting of the five BRICS’ leaders, followed by a working luncheon. Thereafter, the leaders will meet the business council and accept the report from them. Besides, there will be for the first time a briefing by New Development Bank (NDB) president KV Kamath, because they have completed a year of functioning and they have issued the first loans, so they would be coming and presenting a report,” said Secretary (ER).”Later, we will have a plenary, where the Prime Minister will address the media in the presence of all the leaders, and there will be the leaders’ statement at the end,” he said.Sinha further said in the evening of October 16, there first would be a BIMSTEC meeting that the Prime Minister would chair, followed by a meeting of BRICS and BIMSTEC leaders.And the final event would be a BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach dinner, he added.BRICS brings together five major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa comprising 43% of the world population, 30% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade.

First Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi ready by end 2017: businessman | Reuters

First Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi ready by end 2017: businessman | Reuters

Updated: Oct 11, 2016 19:19 IST

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ABU DHABI The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will be ready to welcome worshippers by the end of 2017, a businessman overseeing the project said on Tuesday.The temple is being built on land donated by the government of Muslim Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Hindus currently travel to Dubai, the UAE’s tourism and commercial hub more than 100 km (60 miles) away, to perform prayers.The government announced it was allocating land to build the temple during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hundreds of thousands of Indian Hindus live in Abu Dhabi.Indian billionaire businessman B.R. Shetty, who is chairman of the Temple Coordination Committee, said: “The UAE is a great example of religious tolerance with people of different nationalities living in harmony here.”

The temple project will be funded privately, he said. The government has allocated 20,000 square meters of land in Al Wathba, just outside Abu Dhabi city.Indians make up the largest expatriate group, about 2.6 million or 30 percent of the UAE population, according to figures from the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai also has a Sikh Gurdwara and both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have Christian churches.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will be the chief guest at India’s annual Republic Day parade next year. (Reporting By Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Facebook rolls out business software, launches pricing war | Reuters

Facebook rolls out business software, launches pricing war | Reuters

Updated: Oct 10, 2016 22:47 IST

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By Yasmeen Abutaleb
| SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc launched a workplace version of its mobile app and website on Monday, marking the social networking company’s first foray into the hotly competitive and crowded enterprise software arena.The product, called Workplace by Facebook, has been in testing for more than a year and is now available to all businesses. It is designed for workplace communication and collaboration, putting Facebook in direct competition with the fast-growing startup Slack.Workplace is a subscription product – a departure for advertising-driven Facebook – with businesses paying $1 to $3 per user. Slack’s least expensive business plan charges about $7 per user.Slack did not respond to a request for comment. Workplace is the latest move by Facebook to take on competitors in all areas of social networking and mobile communications. Over the past several months it also has rolled out products to challenge the fast-growing ephemeral photo-sharing app Snapchat.

Still, the company will have to overcome the fact that Facebook is not really a work tool and is often viewed as a distraction in offices. To combat that, Workplace does not require people to sign in with their personal accounts and limits News Feed – Facebook’s main feature where users can see regular updates from friends and others that they follow – to company announcements, memos and communications.Facebook is building a direct sales force for Workplace and also working with professional services firms to get businesses signed up.

“We want to replace a lot of old technologies like internal emails, mailing lists, newsletters,” said Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s global head of Workplace. “These are things that people want to get rid of.” Facebook’s power in mobile arena – its Messenger app has more than 1 billion users worldwide – could give the company an edge at a moment when businesses are increasingly looking for mobile-friendly communications tools.Although its biggest markets for Workplace include the United States and the United Kingdom, Facebook is aggressively targeting businesses in emerging markets, including Africa and Asia, where some employees primarily rely on mobile phones.

It also is going after businesses with non-traditional desk workers – such as baristas, ship workers and factory workers – where employees spend the majority or all of their time outside of offices. Facebook has more than 1,000 businesses signed up, the company said, with India as its biggest market. (Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Bill Trott)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Gandhi a racist, say Ghana university academics; govt wants to relocate statue

Was Gandhi a racist?

That’s the question the Ghana government is basing its decision on, to relocate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi off a university campus, after professors launched a petition claiming that he was “racist”.

The institution in question is the University of Ghana and interestingly enough, the statue was unveiled in June at the campus in Accra by President Pranab Mukherjee, symbolising a close tie between the two countries.

A petition was launched in September by a group of professors who called for the removal of the statue. They said that Gandhi was racist and besides, the university should be giving importance to “African heroes and heroines, first and foremost”.

“It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power,” said the petition, which quotes passages written by Gandhi that say Indians are “infinitely superior” to black Africans.

A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Professors at a university in Ghana's capital are campaigning for the removal of a new statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.(AP Photo/Christian Thompson)A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Professors at a university in Ghana's capital are campaigning for the removal of a new statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.(AP Photo/Christian Thompson)

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana. Image from AP

Ghana’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that it has followed the controversy with “deep concern” and that it wants to relocate the statue. “The government would therefore want to relocate the statue from the University of Ghana to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy,” it said.

“While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve,” said the ministry, emphasising that Ghana and India have “championed the struggle for the liberation of oppressed peoples around the world”.

“Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws.” This is just one of the many sentences that have egged on the debate of Gandhi’s legacy.

In an interview with Gouri Chatterjee for Firstpost, Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, perhaps one of the very few to have explored the Mahatma’s life in great detail, said that “Gandhi was a racist”, but only in 1983 when he “first reached South Africa”. It would be pertinent to note that Gandhi was in his early 20s and filled with the prejudice of “his Indian and British upbringing. He then thought Africans inferior to Indians and whites, and said so in public,” according to Guha.

As Ghana’s ministry of foreign affairs then insightfully notes, Guha echoes a similar viewpoint: that people gradually overcome their prejudices and flaws and that Gandhi

slowly shed these prejudices. He came to appreciate the quality of African life, to admire their moral sense, and the beauty of their languages and culture. By about 1908 or so, he was advocating the equality of all races.

However, Guha was quick to point out that Gandhi’s views changed after he returned to India, asking Indians in South Africa to unite with the Africans against the white regime. The historian said that those who still consider Gandhi a racist are those who are “cherry-picking from Gandhi’s own writings” and those who are “judging the 19th century by the canons and values of the 21st century”.

Those in Ghana or elsewhere who damn Gandhi as a racist are misguided and misinformed. That said, I do not think the Government of India should be funding and installing statues of Gandhi in other countries. That is patronising; besides, would it not be better for the Government to honour and practice Gandhian principles at home?

Ambedkar_AFPAmbedkar_AFP

Ambedkar is the icon when it comes to emancipating Dalits, not Gandhi. Image from AFP

Perhaps the South African academics do have a point. Soutik Biswas, writing for the BBC, says that the authors of The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire (also South African academics, but of Indian origin) believe so. The duo spent seven years researching for the book and observe that Gandhi was unconcerned about the plight of the Africans, held a firm belief that power should be with the whites and also addressed the Africans as ‘kaffirs’, which is a derogatory term.

The duo wrote that Gandhi, in 1904, wrote to a Johannesburg health officer, feeling quite strongly about the mingling of the “Kaffirs with the Indians”, referring to a slum known as ‘Coolie Location’.

Another BBC report mentioned that the hashtag #Ghandimustfall was being circulated on social media in South Africa, during April 2015, as was a statute vandalised by a group bearing placards that read: Racist Gandhi must fall.

But before we look outwards, we must look into our own backyard first.

The Dalit movement, which is gaining momentum in the country, has given fuel to the debate of Ambedkar vs Gandhi. The debate isn’t a new one though, as Arundhati Roy wrote in The Caravan, in a long-winding essay titled, The doctor and the saint.

Both men were their generation’s emissaries of a profound social, political and philosophical conflict that had begun long ago and has still by no means ended… Ambedkar was Gandhi’s most formidable adversary. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally.

Even though Gandhi famously campaigned against untouchability — professor Mridula Mukherjee, who criticises Roy’s view, was quoted by The Guardian as saying that Gandhi devoted his life to fighting prejudice, and being a social reformer bringing about social transformation — it’s Ambedkar we look to when we talk about caste annihilation. (It’s a shame that Tamil Nadu’s own EV Ramaswamy Naicker, popularly known as Periyar, is lesser known, even though he was Ambedkar’s contemporary. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Guha, in the interview to Chatterjee, has a fitting reply to why when it comes to emancipating the Dalits — who have politically suppressed and culturally oppressed and marginalised in India — Ambedkar is the icon and not Gandhi. He says,

It is just and inevitable that Ambedkar should be the great icon of the young Dalits today. He was their emancipator. At the same time, it is a mistake to discount Gandhi’s own lifelong fight against caste discrimination. Upper caste Indians should take inspiration from it, since caste prejudice is still so prevalent today.

— With inputs from AFP

Terrorism biggest threat to international peace: Hamid Ansari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a veiled attack on Pakistan, India on Wednesday condemned the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, describing the menace as the biggest threat to international peace and to the sovereignty of states as well as pluralist and open societies.”Your country, like my own, has suffered the horrors of this scourge of humanity. Terrorism today has global reach, no city remains safe. There is a new level of threat to pluralist and open societies,” Vice President Hamid Ansari said in his address to officers of the National Defence College here in the Nigerian capital. “Today, the biggest threat to international peace, and to the sovereignty of States, is Terrorism. Kautilya called it ‘secret war’,” he said while speaking on ‘Emerging Security Imperatives in the context of India-Nigeria relations’.”No cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians as a means to achieve a political goal or change of policies,” he said, adding that terrorism is one of the most egregious sources of human right violations, and it has become a major impediment to development. Nigeria has witnessed multiple attacks by Boko Haram, which opposes western education and wants to set up an Islamic caliphate in Africa’s most populous country.In 2013, the US designated it a terrorist outfit, amid fears that it had developed links with other groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to wage a global jihad.In one of the major attacks, the Boko Haram militants captured approximately 300 girls – between the ages of 16 and 18 – from a boarding school in Nigeria’s Borno state in 2014.”Nigeria, like India, has suffered the horrors of this scourge of humanity and use of terrorism as an instrument of State policy is to be unequivocally condemned,” he said, without directly naming Pakistan. “There can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists. A terrorist is a terrorist; one who commits crimes against humanity cannot have any religion, or be afforded any political sanctuary,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s policy of diving the Taliban militants into good and bad categories.India accuses Pakistan of training, funding and arming terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohamad who carry out deadly attacks in the country. In most recent attack, Pakistan-based terrorists killed 18 Indian soldiers during an attack on an army camp in Uri town in Kashmir. “We have to help each other by sharing intelligence, securing our cyber space, and minimising the use of Internet and social media for terrorist activities,” Asnari told the Nigerian officers, asserting that terrorism can only be defeated by organised global action.He called for restructuring the legal framework by adopting a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. “No country in the world, howsoever powerful, can counter the emergent threats unilaterally. This, therefore, makes diplomacy doubly important for developing economies such as ours,” he said. “Together we stand as giants of Africa and Asia respectively and as we march ahead in our quest for economic and military security, collaborative efforts borne out of mutual trust can be leveraged effectively to achieve our strategic goals,” the Vice President said.

Don’t oppose mobile towers for BRICS summit: Laxmikant Parsekar to locals

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar issued a warning to the village panchayats on Wednesday, opposing mobile towers which are to be erected for the next month’s BRICS summit in the coastal state. “We are getting opportunity to host events like the BRICS summit. The state government, panchayats or municipalities should embrace this opportunity to project Goa on the world platform,” Parsekar told reporters after chairing a cabinet meeting in Panaji.”There is a huge bandwidth requirement as the BRICS summit proceedings have to be continuously telecast live for which towers have to be put up,” he said. “The panchayats should not oppose towers or we will have to draw our weapons, the panchayats must co-operate,” he said, refusing to explain what he meant by “weapons”. Annual summit of BRICS, the grouping of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, would be held in South Goa district on October 15 and 16.Parsekar said it was a prestigious event and opposing the development work on flimsy grounds would put the reputation of the state at stake. Some panchayats opposed the mobile towers for the fear that these towers cause cancer, he said, adding that the government “has started educating people on apprehension of danger of radiation due to mobile towers.” Cellular Operators Association of India had also held workshops in the area where the towers would come up, said the Chief Minister.Further, the Secretary, Union Telecommunication Department, had assured that radiation emitted by mobile towers will be checked before the towers are installed, he said.

Dawood’s close aide Zahid Miyan under NIA’s radar, chargesheet filed

Mon, 22 Aug 2016-09:09pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a chargesheet against underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s close aide Zahid Miyan. This is the latest development from India’s side in the attempt to round up Dawood’s aides across the globe. Earlier, the NIA had approached the Interpol to trace Dawood’s aide Javed Patel alias Javed Chikna in Pakistan, arrest him and hand him over to India.According to reports, South Africa based Zahid Miyan was part of the team that masterminded the conspiracy to kill Hindu leaders and a list of BJP and RSS members was also prepared. NIA investigation had revealed earlier that a new terror outfit was being planned by D-company and the conspiracy was hatched in Karachi and South Africa.

PM Modi to embark on Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya visit from July 7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a five-day visit to Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya beginning July 7, with an aim to further deepen India’s engagement with the resource-rich African continent where China has been expanding its influence.The Prime Minister’s visit comes within weeks after President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari travelled to Africa to strengthen and reinvigorate India’s ties. “The visit will provide opportunities to build on close contacts at the highest political level and enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interests,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s current trade with Africa is around US $75 billion and it has granted a whopping US $7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects in the past four years. India has implemented nearly 140 projects in 41 African countries during the period.
ALSO READ After President Mukherjee, PM Modi likely to visit African countriesModi’s first destination will be Mozambique where he will have bilateral discussions with President Nyusi on July 7 to expand existing cooperation. In the second leg of his tour from July 8 to 9, Modi will be in South Africa where he will have meetings with President Jacob Zuma and other senior leaders across the political spectrum.The Prime Minister is also expected to visit Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban during the visit, Swarup said. India’s ties with South Africa is considered crucial and both countries work closely in various multilateral fora like BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), tripartite grouping IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), G-20 and BASIC, a bloc of four large countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
ALSO READ President Mukherjee wraps up three-nation tour to Africa, returns todayOn July 10, the Prime Minister will have meetings with Tanzanian President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli on a range of areas with an aim to further enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interest, said Swarup. On the final leg of his trip, Modi will travel to Kenya where he will have bilateral discussions with President Kenyatta.The Prime Minister will also address students in the University of Nairobi during the visit. “The visit of the Prime Minister to the African mainland reflects India’s desire to further strengthen and reinvigorate bilateral ties with our African partners,” said Swarup.
ALSO READ India keen to make Morocco its economic hub for Africa: Vice President AnsariIndia had organised a four-day-long summit here with African countries in October last year which was attended by representatives of 54 African nations, including heads of state and government of around 40 countries.

Chigumbura blasts Zimbabwe to win over India in first T20 | Reuters

HARARE Elton Chigumbura smashed an unbeaten 54 from 26 balls as Zimbabwe stunned India with a two run win in the first Twenty20 International at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Chigumbura pummelled seven sixes as he took Zimbabwe to 170 for six in their 20 overs having been sent into bat by the tourists.

India lost opener Lokesh Rahul on his Twenty20 debut in the first ball of their reply, but they went into the final over from seamer Neville Madziva needing eight to win.

That was reduced to four off the last ball with Mahendra Singh Dhoni on strike, but he could only bludgeon the ball to deep point and Zimbabwe celebrated a second consecutive victory over India in the 20-over format.

Aside from Chigumbura, Malcolm Waller (30 from 21 balls) and opener Hamilton Masakadza (25 from 15 balls) gave Zimbabwe their highest score against India in Twenty20 cricket.

India were behind the run-rate for much of their innings, but Manish Pandey (48 from 35 balls) kept them in the hunt until the last over.

With Dhoni on strike it looked like advantage to the tourists, but Madziva bowled a succession of excellent yorkers to limit India to five runs.

Aside from Rahul, the visitors handed 20-over debuts to batsman Mandeep Singh, seamer Jaydev Unadkat, all-rounder Rishi Dhawan and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.

The second Twenty20 match will be played at the same venue on Monday.

(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India’s private sector investment sought for Cote D’Ivoirie cocoa processing

Abidjan: Cote D’Ivoirie on Wednesday sought investment from India’s private sector particularly in cocoa processing to further strengthen its trade ties with India.

President of Cote D’Ivoirie Alassane Ouattara expressed interest in Indian private sector investment during his talks with President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a two-day trip to the Western African country as part his three-nation African tour.

President Pranab Mukherjee with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. ReutersPresident Pranab Mukherjee with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. Reuters

President Pranab Mukherjee with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. Reuters

“Ivory Coast Government is very keen to get Indian private sector on board…Another sector he was proudly mentioning was that of Chocolates. They produce cocoa. He says that Indian private sector could be useful as they export everything,” Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said while giving
details of the talks between the two leaders to reporters.

He also said as per figures by January this year, the trade between the two countries stood at around $841 million and would have touched $1 billion till 31 March.

In one of the important agreements signed, Exim Bank is going to re-open its office here. It was shifted in 1992 to Sudan because of political turmoil in the country.

Headquartered in Mumbai, the bank signed a ‘Headquarter Agreement’ which will give it some privileges.

Mukherjee also raised the issue of reforms in the United Nations security council and said change is must, Sinha said.

Ouattara told Mukherjee it was an honour that he took time away from his busy schedule to visit his country and expressed regret that he could not come to India during India-Africa Forum Summit last year because of elections.

Mukherjee extended invitation to Ouattara, asking him to visit India anytime.

This is the maiden visit of the Indian President to “home of hospitality” Cote D’Ivoirie and is seen as India’s outreach to Africa. Mukherjee’s visit comes close on the heels of Vice President Hamid Ansari’s trip to Morocco and Tunisia.

Cote D’Ivoirie, also known as Ivory Coast, a francophone country, is the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India which procures nearly 80 per cent of their total exports of cashew nuts.

The President’s arrival coincided with rains which is considered a good omen by the locales.

“When a guest comes with rain, it is the most auspicious occasion in our country. The second line of our national anthem says our country is a home of hospitality,” said Brice, a local.

The country had gone through a period of turmoil in the last decade due to civil war but its development can be seen from modern expressways crisscrossing the lush green countryside.

After President Mukherjee, PM Modi likely to visit African countries

Close on the heels of President Pranab Mukherjee’s maiden visit to three African nations — Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also likely to visit a few countries of the continent soon as part of India’s to outreach Africa.The indications of this plan was given by Mukherjee while he was addressing the Indian community here on Monday during a reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner to Ghana K Jeeva Sagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recalling ‘age-old’ friendly relations of Indians with Africa, the President said the relationship has deepened over the years.”My first visit as President of India to three African countries is not accidental,” he said, adding it was a follow-up action initiated by the Prime Minister after India Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi last year.”Very recently, just a few days before Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Tunisia and Morocco. I am visiting these three countries and shortly Prime Minister is also going to undertake visits to four-five African countries to give a message that ‘Africa, we stand by you’,” the President said.Speaking to the Indian community, he asked them to join the campaigns launched by Prime Minister Modi such as ‘Digital India’, ‘Startup India, Stand up India’, ‘Clean India Mission’, ‘Smart Cities’ etc.The President said India’s trade with Africa is over US $70 billion and investments worth about US $35 billion.Addressing the community, he said their efforts were complementing many foreign policy measures taken by the Indian government to assist the friendly countries in Africa, including Ghana.He said India has extended over US $400 million of concessional credit to Ghana in the last few years for various projects.”Exim bank is also providing funding for a railway project. India-Ghana bilateral trade has reached US $3 billion and Indian investments in this country are estimated at around USD one billion,” the President noted.Mukherjee, during his talks with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, said both the sides have agreed to take the trade to US $5 billion by 2020.He also praised the Indian diaspora for its engaging role as “force multiplier” in the country’s economic growth.”These giant strides would not have been possible without the active role of the diaspora. You have become force multipliers of India’s growing economic strength. I thank you for your commitment,” he said.

After President Pranab, PM Modi likely to visit African countries

Accra: Close on the heels of President Pranab Mukherjee‘s maiden visit to three African nations — Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also likely to visit a few countries of the continent soon as part of India’s to outreach Africa.

The indications of this plan was given by Mukherjee while he was addressing the Indian community in Accra on Monday during a reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner to Ghana K Jeeva Sagar.

A file photo of Narendra Modi. Getty images

A file photo of Narendra Modi. Getty images

Recalling ‘age-old’ friendly relations of Indians with Africa, the President said the relationship has deepened over the years.

“My first visit as President of India to three African countries is not accidental,” he said, adding it was a follow-up action initiated by the Prime Minister after India Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi last year.

“Very recently, just a few days before Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Tunisia and Morocco. I am visiting these three countries and shortly Prime Minister is also going to undertake visits to four-five African countries to give a message that ‘Africa, we stand by you’,” the President said.

Speaking to the Indian community, he asked them to join the campaigns launched by Prime Minister Modi such as ‘Digital India’, ‘Startup India, Stand up India’, ‘Clean India Mission’, ‘Smart Cities’ etc.

The President said India’s trade with Africa is over USD 70 billion and investments worth about USD 35 billion.

Addressing the community, he said their efforts were complementing many foreign policy measures taken by the Indian government to assist the friendly countries in Africa, including Ghana.

He said India has extended over USD 400 million of concessional credit to Ghana in the last few years for various projects.

“Exim bank is also providing funding for a railway project. India-Ghana bilateral trade has reached USD three billion and Indian investments in this country are estimated at around USD one billion,” the President noted.

Mukherjee, during his talks with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, said both the sides have agreed to take the trade to USD five billion by 2020.

He also praised the Indian diaspora for its engaging role as “force multiplier” in the country’s economic growth.

“These giant strides would not have been possible without the active role of the diaspora. You have become force multipliers of India’s growing economic strength. I thank you for your commitment,” he said.

Modi notches Rajya Sabha gains, eyes Uttar Pradesh battle | Reuters

ALLAHABAD, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has notched up gains in elections to the Rajya Sabha, and is seeking to drive home the advantage when his nationalist ruling party meets to devise a strategy to win Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state.

Modi drew standing ovations from U.S. lawmakers this week on a visit to Washington D.C. but, like President Barack Obama, has faced a struggle in his two years in power to get legislation through a hostile second chamber.

That job may have become slightly less difficult after his nationalist the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies added five seats in Saturday’s Rajya Sabha polls, but with 74 seats in the 245-chamber they remain in a minority.

BJP leaders were due to meet later on Sunday to finalise their strategy to win the 2017 election in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, knowing that defeat would handicap Modi and sap his chances of winning a second term.

“We have to win Uttar Pradesh to change the destiny of India,” BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said to Reuters ahead of the two-day meeting in Allahabad, eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The opposition Congress alliance lost three seats to 71, with regional parties holding the balance of power, according to media tallies. With Congress down but not yet out, Modi will still have to cut deals to pass tax, labour and land reforms.

Modi swept Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general election, helping him to claim the biggest Lok Sabha majority in three decades. But he is unlikely to repeat that result against tough opposition from regional parties.

A senior BJP official said Modi’s closed-door brainstorming session would mobilise grassroots activists to consolidate the majority Hindu vote base and devise a formula to play up Hindu-Muslim polarisation and caste politics.

(Editing by Douglas Busvine and Christian Schmollinger)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Nadda says India supplies 80% drugs to combat AIDS globally

United Nations: India has said that over 80 percent of the drugs used globally to combat the deadly AIDS are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms and the low-cost generic medicines have helped scale up access to HIV treatment across developing countries.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda. AFPUnion Health Minister JP Nadda. AFP

Union Health Minister JP Nadda. AFP

Addressing the high-level General Assembly meeting on HIV/AIDS, Minister for Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda
said that India had faced the “spectre of disastrous consequences” on account of AIDS epidemic 15 years back but was able to manage the challenge effectively.

The country today is significantly contributing in the global fight against AIDS as more than 80 percent of the
antiretroviral drugs used globally are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry, he said.

The UN General Assembly adopted a new political declaration that emphasised on the critical importance of
affordable medicines to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

The minister also underlined that the international community cannot afford a rebound of the AIDS epidemic and
that developed countries should do more and enhance their commitments to fight the worldwide scourge.

“Targeted interventions based on close collaboration with and empowerment of communities and civil society with
appropriate funding from the government have helped deliver key life saving services to the affected population,” Nadda said in his address to the 193-member Assembly at the United Nations on Wednesday.

Deaths due to AIDS in India have been reduced by nearly 55 percent since 2007, while new HIV infections saw a
reduction by 66 percent since 2000.

Around a million people affected by AIDS are currently on antiretroviral therapy.

“These remarkable successes would not have been possible without access to affordable medicines. The low cost generic medicines produced by the Indian pharmaceutical industry have been instrumental in scaling up access to HIV treatment not only in India but in other parts of the world, especially in the developing countries most affected by this scourge,” Nadda said.

He added that the “accessibility and affordability” of drugs has helped save millions of lives around the world.

India’s emphasis on providing low-cost generic medicines to combat HIV/AIDS was echoed in the UNGA declaration, which recognises the “critical importance of affordable medicines, including generics, in scaling up access to affordable HIV treatment”.

Outlining ways in which the international community can act together over the next five years to fight HIV/AIDS, Nadda stressed on need to ensure access to affordable medicines and commodity security.

He said India is committed to maintain the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities.

“We reiterated this commitment last year during the Third India-Africa Summit, responding to call from our brothers and sisters in Africa,” he said.

PTI

PM Narendra Modi’s US Congress speech tells it like it is about Pakistan

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech at the US Congress on Wednesday that stood out as uncommon sense in a world that has largely wallowed in giving Pakistan a free pass when it comes to harbouring a rogue’s gallery of terrorists.

Modi’s command performance in the United States shows he doesn’t know the meaning of ‘jet lag’ . By the time he touches down in New Delhi on Thursday — packing a full working day in Mexico — Modi would have covered 33,000 kilometres, held over 45 meetings across five countries, and spent over 44 hours on Air India One.

There was no sign of jet lag, as an animated Modi, the fifth Indian prime minister to address the US Congress, received a series of standing ovations and thunderous applause from lawmakers who increasingly see in India a democratic counterweight to China’s rise. It appears Modi has taken note.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. PTI

“India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region,” said Modi. “A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.”

In an indirect reference to China, he also touted India’s “respect for global commons and for international rules and norms.”

Modi addressed US concerns on contentious issues like intellectual property rights with gentle humour.

“Siri tells us that India’s ancient heritage of yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the US. It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball,” Modi said before landing his punchline.

“And, no Mr Speaker (Paul Ryan), we have not yet claimed intellectual property rights on yoga,” Modi said drawing laughter.

In fact, Modi’s substantive address had the right blend of humour, generous praise for the US and gravitas. At any rate, the US lawmakers appeared receptive to his message.

In a not-so-veiled reference to Pakistan, Modi said that terrorism was “incubated in India’s neighborhood.”

“Not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat,” said Modi. “In the territory stretching from west of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Lashkar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to IS.”

“But its philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence. Although its shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood.”

Modi urged the US Congress to send a clear message to those who “preach and practice” terrorism for political gains.

“Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions,” said Modi taking aim at generous US non-military aid to Pakistan.

Members of the US House of Representatives recently threatened to block $450 million in aid to Islamabad unless it does more to fight the Haqqani network, which lawmakers see as a major threat to US forces in Afghanistan.

Modi said that the need of the hour was to isolate those who sponsor terrorists and not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists as terrorism was not just a threat in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia too.

Some US lawmakers tend to subscribe to Pakistan’s policy of “bad terrorists” (from its Afghan front, who mostly attack Pakistan and American soldiers) versus “good terrorists” (from West Punjab, who mostly attack India).

Modi closed his remarks with an optimistic view of ties between India and the US, which he called an “indispensable partner.”

He connected with his audience by reminiscing about his early travels to America where he was struck by the country’s creativity and “animal spirits.”

“Long before assuming office, I travelled coast to coast, covering 29 States of America.I realized then that the real strength of the US was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions,” reflected Modi.

“Today, Mr Speaker, a similar spirit animates India. Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient. My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations.”

“Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversation through the cycle of elections and transitions of administrations the intensity of our engagement has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the US Congress has acted as its compass,” acknowledged Modi.

The prime minister said the two countries’ relationship is “primed for a momentous future. The complaints of the past are behind us, and the foundations of the future are firmly in place.”

Modi drew on American writer Walt Whitman’s line; “The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.”

“And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.”

Ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s tour, government alerts states on Africans’ safety

Ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s tour of three African countries – Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia — from June 12, external affaris minister Sushma Swaraj has written to chief ministers of seven states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, UP, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Goa to to ensure safety of African nationals residing there.In a bid to shore up ties with Africa in the face of stiff competition from China, Mukherjee’s visit is part of high-level interactions with African countries who had expressed resentment at the killing of a Congolese man by a group of people in New Delhi and also reports of attacks on African citizen elsewhere in the country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mukherjee’s visit comes after that of Vice-president Hamid Ansari’s six-day tour (30 May to 4 June) of Morocco and Tunisia. External affairs ministry is working overtime to schedule the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the continent as a follow up to the India-Africa Summit held here last December.Swaraj in her letter has told chief ministers that attacks against the African nations may be actions of individuals, but they have international reverberations. “There is need for taking quick actions and also ensure prosecution of guilty,” she said. She has also asked a joint secretary to coordinate with the states and monitor actions and progress of investigations in the cases involving African citizens. The government clearly does not want to queer the pitch ahead of high-profile visits. The Africa is lately part of New Delhi’s diplomatic efforts to increase footprints in the continent.This will be first ever visit of the President to Cote d’Ivoire after both countries established diplomatic relations, while it will be the first at the highest level in over two decades to Namibia. During the trip, India will remind Namibia to ratify a 2009 agreement related to supply of uranium for nuclear reactors. Though, the agreement was signed, but Namibia under a commitment from African Union treaty has not ratified it. The uranium output is expected to be around 11,100 metric tonnes in 2017 in Namibia, which is one of the biggest uranium producers in the world after Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia and Niger.In Ghana, the President will address a Joint Business Forum and the students and faculty of University of Ghana besides having an interaction with the Indian community at a reception organised at the Indian High Commission. He will also unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi gifted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. Ghana is endowed with mineral deposits such as gold, diamond, manganese and bauxite. There are also unexploited economic deposits of iron ore, limestone, kaolin, feldspar and silica sands. The country had offered Indian businessmen who wish to deal in gold or other precious minerals to invest in Ghana.

Indian central bank chief wins over Modi despite broad mistrust | Reuters

NEW DELHI In late 2014, the knives were out for India’s central bank governor Raghuram Rajan.

Finance ministry officials were frustrated by his reluctance to cut interest rates to stimulate growth, and moves were afoot to ease him out of the job. Some were airing their reservations about Rajan’s hawkish stance in the media.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting of senior finance ministry staff that December to hear their complaints, said a person who was present.

At the end, the leader delivered a stern message: do not indulge in a public spat with the central bank.

The moment marked a turning point in ties between the heads of the newly installed government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Since then, Modi and Rajan have developed a close working rapport, government officials and people close to the governor say, and that could be crucial to the $2 trillion economy.

With Modi’s patronage, it is more likely the government will reappoint Rajan, whose three-year term expires in September, should he wish to stay on, the sources said.

That would allow him to try to revive India’s banking sector that has been smothered by distressed debt, which, in turn, is choking off economic recovery.

“Rajan will get another term and he will accept it,” said Arvind Mayaram, India’s former finance secretary who Rajan worked with closely first as the government’s chief economic adviser and then as RBI governor. “He is well entrenched in India’s political economy.”

A top government official said the decision rests with Modi and the leader has not yet said what he wants to do. Modi recently told The Wall Street Journal that Rajan’s reappointment would come up only in September.

The official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the press, added that the prime minister was “proud” of the RBI governor and that a campaign against Rajan would not affect Modi’s decision.

The prime minister’s office and finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Rajan, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, has not disclosed his plans, and did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

MODI’S SUPPORT IS KEY

Modi’s support would be important if the 53-year-old RBI chief is to get the big state banking sector to complete a cleanup of massive debts and force defaulters to pay up.

Banks making provisions for bad debt are reluctant to issue new loans, leading to criticism within the sector and complaints from smaller businesses and politicians.

Patronage from above will also help shield Rajan from lingering opposition within the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a man known for his straight talking and willingness to question government policy and achievements.

As the personal understanding between Rajan and Modi appears to grow, some officials still resent him.

The fact that Rajan was appointed by the previous Congress government did not help him win friends in Modi’s BJP, and the former University of Chicago professor has been viewed by some with suspicion as a product of the West, not India.

BJP parliamentarian and economist Subramanian Swamy, one of those leading a campaign to remove Rajan, recently accused him of “wilfully and deliberately wrecking the Indian economy.”

The governor’s penchant for blunt commentary raises hackles.

Rajan’s appeal for tolerance late last year was perceived to be a veiled criticism of the government for appealing to the Hindu majority at the expense of minority communities, prompting Swamy to rebuke him for speaking like a “grandfather”.

Rajan recently compared India’s fast-growing economy to a “one-eyed king in the land of the blind”. Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman publicly censured his comments.

BONHOMIE

The first signs of growing bonhomie between Modi and Rajan came early last year, when Modi called Rajan the “best teacher” for explaining complex economic issues to him.

Days later, the governor returned the compliment, saying the teaching went both ways.

The prime minister backed Rajan in the monetary policy panel’s composition and blocking moves to strip the RBI’s authority to regulate government bonds and manage public debt.

Modi’s office also directed the finance ministry to pursue only those policies where there was agreement with the central bank, a former finance ministry official said.

The governor frequently visits New Delhi to meet Modi, a government official with direct knowledge said. But their meetings are mostly kept away from the public gaze.

Modi’s office declined a request to disclose the number and details of the meetings, saying the information relates to “economic interest of the state”.

Rajan had help from junior finance minister Jayant Sinha, a college friend and one of the more influential economic voices in the Modi government.

At the December meeting, Sinha told the attendees that the clashes were undermining the government’s credibility, the person present said.

A government source said that Sinha also facilitated meetings between Rajan and Modi to broker a compromise on thorny issues such as the composition of the new monetary panel. Sinha did not respond to a request for comment.

LEARNING ON THE JOB

Rajan may prove a more effective governor second time around if he gets the chance, say some RBI insiders and economists.

Although he fended off a market attack on the rupee early in his tenure, bankers, economists and his former colleagues said he was relatively slow to grasp how liquidity flows through the economy and how to fine tune it to meet his primary policy goal of taming inflation.

Under Rajan, the RBI forced banks to source limited short-term funds from cash-for-bond auctions rather than getting unlimited funds from the central bank at a fixed rate.

Banks complained the new system was forcing up costs and hampering the transmission of rate cuts to the real economy, said several bankers privy to the discussions with the RBI.

At first, Rajan publicly dismissed their concerns as “nonsense”. It was only after 16 months of pleading by banks that he finally revamped the RBI’s liquidity management in April, the bankers said.

A second stint is likely to see a more accomplished operator as the RBI tackles bank debt, tries to develop the bond market as a viable source of funding for companies and switches to a Western-style approach to decision making.

A new monetary policy panel will be formed later this year to set interest rates, something Rajan favored to make the RBI more independent and introduce transparency to the process.

In a key victory for Rajan, draft legislation from the finance ministry that would have allowed the government to appoint more than half of the panel’s members was amended to split it evenly between government and RBI nominees.

Rajan will get the casting vote in the case of a 3-3 split.

Those who have worked with Rajan said his people skills and powers of persuasion will give him a big say on setting rates.

“WHY ROCK THE BOAT?”

Rajan continues to be lionized by foreign investors whose funds are needed to keep the Indian economy motoring ahead.

That was key in convincing Modi to defend him, while two off-cycle interest rate cuts in January and March last year also acted as a balm, a senior minister in the federal cabinet said.

The country has been ravaged by drought in the last two years and not enough jobs are being created to accommodate its rapidly expanding workforce, but India is the world’s fastest growing major economy and inflation is half what it was in 2013.

“The combination of Modi, (Finance Minister Arun) Jaitley and Rajan are delivering on the macro front,” said Gita Gopinath, an economics professor at Harvard University who knows Rajan well. “I really don’t see any reason to rock the boat.”

(Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine, Neha Dasgupta, Suvashree Choudhury and Rupam Jain; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Unfortunate if Indians dilute their friendship with Africans: Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday expressed concern over a string of alleged attacks on Africans in the country, saying it would be most unfortunate if the people of India were to ‘dilute our long tradition of friendship with the people of Africa’.Addressing the delegates of 7th Annual Heads of Mission Conference who called on him, the President said,”It would be most unfortunate if the people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with the people of Africa and the welcome we have always extended to them in our country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>African students in India should have no reason to fear for their safety and security.”
ALSO READ Africans call of stir after assurance from Indian govtHe said no impression which is not in line with our ethos or core values of our ancient civilization should be created.”We shall have to create appropriate awareness in the minds of our youngsters who may not know the history, age old relations (between India and Africa)…India has had trading relations with African countries for centuries and everyone of the 54 countries of Africa has a thriving Indian community doing business, industry etc.
ALSO READ Attacks are racist but we have belief in Indian govt: African envoy”We cannot allow these to be jeopardised in anyway and create a bad precedent which is not the ethos, which is not part of the core values of our civilisation,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement quoted Mukherjee as having told the delegation.The President said he was happy that Ministry of External Affairs in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs is proactively following up on the few isolated incidents that have occurred and working closely with authorities to ensure the safety of African students in India.
ALSO READ Attacks on Africans: Minor scuffle blown up by media, says VK SinghMukherjee said the bonds between the people of India and the people of Africa have been forged since time immemorial.”As a political activist, as a member of parliament, I have noticed how close we (India and Africa) are with each other. Almost a century ago Rabindranath Tagore wrote a beautiful poem titled Africa expressing his anguish, pathos, sense of pain on apartheid,” he said.Mukherjee said leaders like Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana stood shoulder to shoulder with Jawaharlal Nehru at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung in 1955 and in founding the Non-aligned Movement in 1961.”Nelson Mandela was an embodiment of Gandhian principles. India led the long international struggle for the end of colonialism and apartheid in Africa,” the President said.The President said in 1946 Government of India decided to stop any trade relationship with South Africa till apartheid was not lifted.”At that time decision was a bold decision because South Africa accounted for five per cent of total international trade with India,” he said.Mukherjee said it was only in 1994, after the end of apartheid, that he as Commerce Minister restored normal trade relations with that country.”Whole of India stood in support of African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda during this freedom struggle,” he said.Earlier, the President termed terrorism as a menace which needs to be collectively tackled by the world community with determination.”There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist. Comprehensive cooperation by all countries of the world is essential to tackle this global menace,” he said.He called upon the Heads of Mission to do their best to expand contacts between higher education institutions of India and foreign countries.

Why do Africans come to India?

Walking through the by-lanes of Arjun Nagar in South Delhi’s Safdarjung area, one sees the humdrum of daily life – housewives buying groceries, schoolgoing children playing about, and vegetable sellers doing brisk business.In this bustle, one sees the occasional African haggling with the bhajiwala – Indian style. At one corner, you see another African sipping on cutting chai, or, perhaps, in a general store stocking up on soap, shampoo and other toiletries. The only thing different is the colour of the skin.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There has been much debate over alleged racist discrimination against Africans living in India since the recent spate of attacks. Even as joint secretary (West Africa) Birender Yadav met the family members (cousins) of deceased Congolese national MT Oliver at the airport and conveyed his heartfelt condolences, the question most frequently asked is: Why does an African come to India?Thirty five-year-old John Uche Jesus was keen to come to India ever since he grew up watching Bollywood movies in Nigeria. A fashion designer who designs Indian ethnic wear, Jesus claims that he “loved the movies, the culture, the concept of love portrayed in the movies, and, of course, fashion.”Congolese nationals Guylain Kongolo and Sandra Sambayi came to India for its affordable quality education. Across Africa, it is widely believed that, in India, one can avail good educational degrees that are internationally recognised and cheap, compared to western countries.All three were aware it would be difficult to adapt to a new country. However, they did not anticipate just how difficult it would really be. “I completed my undergrad in London and I thought since the UK recognises Indians, it would be somewhat similar. I thought everyone would speak basic English at least,” says MBA graduate Sambayi. The 30-year-old Congolese completed her post-graduation from Stratford University in South Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar.Kongolo, who came here almost a decade ago, claims that it has been tough logistically, but he has not suffered any threat to life – yet. Kongolo was lured by a dream that the Congolese ambassador to India sold to his countrymen. A country where one could avail cheap, quality education that one could apply once they returned to Congo.The idea is to assimilate oneself in your host country. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I am a guest in this country; I must abide by local rules, customs and culture. Only then will I be accepted,” said Jesus. This sentiment was echoed by almost universally by the African community.”The actions of a few misguided youth who killed the Congolese national will not shape my opinion about all Indians in general, just like all Indians must not generalise all Africans for the act of a few who may be anti-social in their activities,” Jesus added.Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood aside, India is host to almost 39,517 foreign students. Students from almost 158 countries come to India to study information technology, medicine among other fields. Of these, African nationals make up a small but significant number.While a section of the African community wants to return home at the first chance, another group which believes that the concept of love, as shown in movies will transcend to reality, is hopeful. “I believe if I am respectful of my actions here and adhere to local norms, perhaps Indians here will not be so scared of us anymore,” Sambayi said.

Africans call of stir after assurance from Indian govt

The protest at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday called by the Association of African Students in India (AASI) to condemn the spate of attacks in the capital in the past fortnight has been called off after assurances from the Indian government.In a series of tweets, President Pranab Mukherjee condemned the attacks on African nationals and called upon close relationship shared and the history of the two nations. “Recent attacks on African students extremely painful,” tweeted Mukherjee, adding, “It would be most unfortunate if people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with people of Africa.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If the protest went through as per the plans, it could be potentially embarrassing for the Indian government. Sustained tweets from President Mukherjee gave a glimpse of the efforts made by authorities to diffuse the tense situation created. The president’s tweets included, “India’s relations with Africa should not be jeopardised in any way,” and “Appropriate awareness of India’s age old historical relations with Africa must be created in the minds of our youngsters.”Speaking to a private media channel, South African envoy Malose William Mogale stated, “It’s racist attacks. But it is not government policy. It is people who might want to tarnish the image of the country, India, to be portrayed to the world that it is the country where there is an emerging trend of racism and more foreigners are not allowed.”Tweeting more than 10 times, Mukherjee reminded the nation that Mahatma Gandhi was a famous “Non-Resident Indian who made his first experiments with Satyagraha in South Africa,” and invoked India’s support during the freedom struggles led by African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere.Mukherjee reminded the nation that Mahatma Gandhi was a famous “Non-Resident Indian who made his first experiments with Satyagraha in South Africa,” and invoked India’s support during the freedom struggles led by African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere.Over the weekend, the African delegation sent the Ministry of External affairs mixed signals despite repeated assurances from the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Several sensitization programs have been conducted over the past week with residents of villages with a significant African population. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has also directed increased police patrolling and vigilance.

Pained by recent attacks on African students: President Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday expressed concern over a string of alleged attacks on Africans in the country, saying it would be most unfortunate if the people of India were to “dilute our long tradition of friendship with the people of Africa”.

Mukherjee said the bonds between the people of India and the people of Africa have been forged since time immemorial. Reuters

Mukherjee said the bonds between the people of India and the people of Africa have been forged since time immemorial. Reuters

Addressing the delegates of 7th Annual Heads of Mission Conference who called on him, the President said,”It would be most unfortunate if the people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with the people of Africa and the welcome we have always extended to them in our country. African students in India should have no reason to fear for their safety and security.”

He said no impression which is not in line with our ethos or core values of our ancient civilization should be created.

“We shall have to create appropriate awareness in the minds of our youngsters who may not know the history, age old relations (between India and Africa)… India has had trading relations with African countries for centuries and everyone of the 54 countries of Africa has a thriving Indian community doing business, industry etc.

“We cannot allow these to be jeopardised in anyway and create a bad precedent which is not the ethos, which is not part of the core values of our civilisation,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement quoted Mukherjee as having told the delegation.

The President said he was happy that Ministry of External Affairs in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs is proactively following up on the few isolated incidents that have occurred and working closely with authorities to ensure the safety of African students in India.

Mukherjee said the bonds between the people of India and the people of Africa have been forged since time immemorial.

“As a political activist, as a member of parliament, I have noticed how close we (India and Africa) are with each other. Almost a century ago Rabindranath Tagore wrote a beautiful poem titled Africa expressing his anguish, pathos, sense of pain on apartheid,” he said.

Mukherjee said leaders like Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana stood shoulder to shoulder with Jawaharlal Nehru at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung in 1955 and in founding the Non-aligned Movement in 1961.

“Nelson Mandela was an embodiment of Gandhian principles. India led the long international struggle for the end of colonialism and apartheid in Africa,” the President said.

The President said in 1946 Government of India decided to stop any trade relationship with South Africa till apartheid was not lifted.

“At that time decision was a bold decision because South Africa accounted for five per cent of total international trade with India,” he said.

Mukherjee said it was only in 1994, after the end of apartheid, that he as Commerce Minister restored normal trade relations with that country.

“Whole of India stood in support of African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda during this freedom struggle,” he said.

Earlier, the President termed terrorism as a menace which needs to be collectively tackled by the world community with determination.

“There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist. Comprehensive cooperation by all countries of the world is essential to tackle this global menace,” he said.

He called upon the Heads of Mission to do their best to expand contacts between higher education institutions of India and foreign countries.

Ansari heads for Morocco, Tunasia to build on “diplomatic gains” from India-Africa summit

New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari Monday embarked on a five-day visit to Morocco and Tunisia as part of efforts to build on diplomatic gains from the India-Africa Summit and lay platform for a future partnership.

Vice President Hamid Ansari. ReutersVice President Hamid Ansari. Reuters

Vice President Hamid Ansari. Reuters

This is the first visit by an Indian Vice President in 50 years to the two nations. The Vice President will discuss with leaders of the two north African countries issues of terrorism, UN Security Council expansion and investments in private sector, as well as ways to strengthen outreach to Africa and regional matters.

Ansari will be in Morocco till 1 June at the invitation of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and the two leaders would jointly launch the India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Rabat, the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said.

During the visit, a number of MoUs will be signed in areas like education, IT and communication technology sectors, focusing on “capacity building and cultural exchange.”

In the second leg of his tour, Ansari will visit Tunisia from  2-3 June.

Ansari’s visit “will build on diplomatic gains” from the India-Africa summit and “we have chosen these two countries as they are great examples of democracy”, Secretary (Economic
Relations) in the MEA Amar Sinha had said.

The King of Morocco had set the ball rolling when he came here in October, Sinha said. The New Delhi Summit – of which Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was the first confirmed guest – was the largest political conference in modern history connecting Indian and African leaders.

He said it is the first high-level visit to the African country after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went there in 1999.

“At the level of Vice President the visit comes after 50 years,” he had said, noting that it is the 50th year of
Morocco’s independence.

“Hello Africa, Tell me how are you doing?” will be India’s motto for the continent, he had said, adding, there will be a series of visits by Indian leaders to Africa in the coming days.

The two countries are important for India as it shares economic relations with them and the visit will help in building contemporary relationship between these two countries and India.

Both the countries are looking forward to the visit as they are key partners in food security and fertilisers and investments in private sector.

“Our car and truck manufacturers are looking at prospective markets,” he said.

While Morocco’s trade with India is “substantial,” there is scope for increasing it with Tunisia. “Morocco is a developing destination for Indian film industry,” he said.

Retaliatory attacks on Indians in Congo trigger concern

Even as the government heaved a sigh of relief with African diplomats agreeing to attend the Africa Day event organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) here on Thursday, reports of attacks on Indian establishments in Congo’s capital Kinshasa has triggered concerns.The attacks were an apparent backlash against the killing of a Congolese national Masonda Ketada Oliver in New Delhi recently.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ministry of external affairs (MEA) handed over a “note verbale”, an unsigned diplomatic communication prepared in third person, to the Congo ambassador Felix Ngoma, asking him to ensure the safety of Indians in the African country. A similar note was handed over by Indian ambassador Ashok Warrier to the Congo foreign office in Kinshasa.A day after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj stepped in to control the damage in India-Africa ties due to frequent attacks on African nationals, sources here said the government was putting up elaborate plans to reach out to the African countries over the next few months.A number of high-level visits to the continent are being planned to broaden engagements . Visits by President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj are being lined up in immediate future. Vice President Hamid Ansari will embark on a five-day tour to the north African nations of Morocco and Tunisia from May 30.With an eye to counter the growing influence of China in the region, India last October announced assistance to African nations, with $10 billion in concessional loans over the next five years.After minister of state for external affairs Gen VK Singh met a delegation of African diplomats, African diplomats agreed to attend the Africa Day event to “continue with the tradition” of marking the event. The diplomats were shown the CCTV footage of attack on the Congo national Oliver by some goons, where some Indian bystander was shown trying to protect him and in turn getting also trashed by goons.External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said it would be unfortunate to generalise a few isolated incidents and portray a climate of insecurity for African students. “It is also not right to characterise criminal acts as being racially motivated,” he said. He said India was committed to working closely with African diplomatic and student communities to ensure full safety and security of African students in India.But, he said, the reports of attacks on Indian shops and establishments in Kinshasa were a cause of concern.”It has come to the notice of our mission in Kinshasa that some Indian establishments and shops in the commercial areas were attacked on May 23 and May 25 as a reaction, perhaps to the killing of the Congolese national in New Delhi last Friday. It has also been reported that there were some gunshots fired injuring a couple of Indians living in the area,” he said.Dean of African group head of missions and ambassador of Eritrea, Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, told reporters the worry of the envoys of 42 African countries. In February, a 21-year-old Tanzanian woman was allegedly stripped and beaten up by a mob in Bengaluru after a Sudanese man ran over a local. A few months before that, three African men were beaten up by a mob in New Delhi after they objected to locals taking their pictures. In January 2015, a minister of the Delhi government even raided a neighbourhood inhabited by African nationals, alleging that they were peddling drugs and ran a prostitution ring. There are 30,000-odd African students living in India.

Ripples of climate change: Why India should worry about heatwave conditions

The heatwave conditions in India will be “serious” before monsoon hits various parts of the country, said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), as global temperature records were smashed yet again in April.

A small town in Rajasthan called Phalodi recorded a searing 51 degrees Celsius in the afternoon of 19 May establishing the highest temperatures ever recorded in the country. The previous record was held by a place about 200 km away called Pachpadra with 50.6 degrees Celsius in the year 1886.

Though heatwaves are common in India from April through June, this year has seen an exceptionally powerful one. The climate pattern sits well with the general global experience this year of record high temperatures in most parts of the world. Last year, El Niño — a climactic occurrence over the Pacific Ocean that unusually spikes up the ocean temperatures — was blamed for severe droughts and dry spells over southern Africa, South and South East Asia, the US and the western Pacific. The event also boosted powerful west Pacific typhoons.

Representational image. Reuters

Though heatwaves are common in India from April through June, this year has seen an exceptionally powerful one. Representational image. Reuters

The month-long weather system of 2015—one of the most powerful in history—had prompted a food crisis in many parts of Africa. It has substantially inflamed water-related problems across the South East Asian region.

However, the El Nino alone did not cause the heatwaves in India this season because the weather system is rapidly fading and is expected to become neutral this summer itself.

“We don’t have any specific linkage between the El Nino and the specific temperatures in this season,” said Rupa Kumar Kolli, chief of the World Climate Applications Division and Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch at WMO.

“In terms of the (India’s heat) records (this year), it could be due to a combination of seasonal climatology, the prevailing circulation (wind, cloudiness) in the region as well as long-term trends associated with global warming. When the heat wave season coincides with anomalous circulation factors on specific days, it can help the extremes to develop and persist. The India Meteorological Department closely monitors these situations and has recently set up an excellent heatwave warning system,” Kolli said.

The WMO’s South Asia Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) – launched in 2010 to engage South Asian countries in understanding and forecasting the monsoon – met in Colombo last month and has predicted above-normal rainfall over much of South Asia.

El Nino that has a significant impact on the Asian monsoon has a high probability of becoming a La Nina weather system — the opposite of El Niño — towards the end of the year. La Niña brings cooler temperatures, abundant rainfall, including to the South East Asian  region, sometimes even flooding countries.

Frequent deficit monsoons are becoming common in India as well as in other parts of the subcontinent. An increase in extreme rainfall events has occurred at the expense of weaker rainfall events over the central Indian region and in many other areas, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings.

Rapid climate change and thinning snow covers may also have had an impact on the increasing Indian temperatures, like for most other parts of the world.

“Reduced global snow cover, particularly in the northern hemisphere, is partly due to the global increase in surface temperature, including that over India.  Indeed, it has a positive feedback cycle, in the sense that reduced snow cover leads to more absorption of solar radiation by the earth’s surface, causing higher temperatures and reducing the snow cover and the cycle continues,” Kolli said.

Hotter days and nights as well as heatwaves have become increasingly frequent in the past 50 years. These will increase this century, according to the IPCC.

The threats on health from rising temperatures are real. Last month, the WMO and WHO hosted a climate and health forum to promote heat-health early warning systems to encourage countries to respond better.

Smashed global records

The WMO called the reports on climate this week as “very alarming”, with April setting new records for high temperatures both on land and on ocean. This is the twelfth consecutive month that saw temperature records being broken – the longest such streak in the last 137 years since the US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started keeping records.

Overall, 13 out of 15 highest monthly temperature departures on record have all occurred since February 2015.

NOAA said the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2016 was 1.10 degree Celsius above the 20th century average of 13.7 degree Celsius. This is the highest temperature departure for April since global records began in 1880.

The globally averaged sea surface temperature was 0.80 degree Celsius (1.44 degree Fahrenheit) above the 20th century monthly average — again, the highest on record.

“What’s particularly concerning is the margin at which these records are being broken. They are not being broken, they are being smashed and on a fairly consistent basis,” said Clare Nullis, spokesperson of the WMO.

The findings of NOAA have been confirmed by NASA and the Japan Meteorological Administration who use different data sets, measurement methods and measurement stations.

There has been extraordinary warmth over large tracts of the Alaska and Russia with temperatures at least 3.0 degree Celsius  above average, as well as in South America, Africa and Asia.

The heat that was seen in 2015 was alarming and hit the world headlines, but the high temperatures in 2016 makes 2015 “pale in comparison”, the world climate organisation said.

In addition, there are two other very concerning events related to high global temperatures. For the first time ever, the carbon dioxide concentrations in the southern hemisphere have joined those in the northern hemisphere and passed the 400 parts per million level. WMO called this “symbolic milestone but significant” since unlike the northern hemisphere where atmospheric concentrations vary, the southern hemisphere remains fairly stable. This implies that the CO₂ levels are not going to go down anytime soon and may remain at that level for several generations.

“At the current rate of increase in CO₂ levels, we are on track to reach the 2 degree Celsius temperature limit within the next two generations,” the WMO chief Petteri Tallas said.

NOAA also reported the thinnest snow cover extent in the northern hemisphere. “This is significant obviously in terms of drought, impact on wild fires (etc.),” Nullis said.

The Canadian wildfires that have grabbed international headlines are partly due to the low snow cover and very little moisture in the air.

Another impact of the prevailing high temperatures has been the unprecedented coral bleaching especially in the Great Barrier Reef.

The combined effect of a now-fading El Niño along with climate change and devastating amounts of human emission have been responsible for the debilitating climate that has affected the world. According to NOAA 10 the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, human activity has increased the direct warming from effect of CO₂ in the atmosphere by 50 percent above pre-industrial levels during in the past 25 years.

Governments have huddled together in Bonn this week on how to implement the Paris climate agreement.

“El Niño is fading fast and will probably give way later this year to La Niña. But any cooling effect from La Niña will be temporary and will not be enough to rein in the global warming from greenhouse gases,” said Taalas.

Pakistan says ‘seriously concerned’ by India’s missile tests | Reuters

ISLAMABAD Pakistan is “seriously concerned” by India’s recent test of anti-ballistic missiles which media reports say could intercept incoming nuclear weapons, a senior foreign ministry official said on Thursday, warning Pakistan would upgrade its defences.

India’s defence and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment and the defence ministry has not stated whether any test was conducted. India has not announced these tests in the past. 

The row over the missile test is likely to heighten long-running tension between India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought three wars since being split amid violence at the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

Both nations have been developing missiles of varying ranges since they conducted nuclear tests in May 1998.

According to media reports, on May 15 India tested a locally designed Anti-Ballistic Missile system which could in theory intercept a nuclear-carrying ballistic missile.

Islamabad views its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent against India’s much larger conventional military.

Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, told the senate that India’s latest test, as well as recent tests of nuclear capable submarine-based ballistic missiles, was “leading to nuclearization” of the Indian Ocean.

“Pakistan has serious concerns over these developments and will take all necessary measures to augment its defence capabilities,” Aziz said.

Pakistan alleges India is building large nuclear-powered submarines capable of carrying nuclear-armed missiles.

Aziz said that India’s actions were upsetting the strategic balance in South Asia and affecting the maritime security of other Indian Ocean nations.

“We are not oblivious to our defence needs and will have to upgrade our defensive capabilities through suitable technologies without entering into an arms race,” Aziz said, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Indian officials have in the past also voiced concerns about Pakistan’s various missile tests.

U.S. President Barack Obama in October urged Pakistan to avoid developments in its nuclear weapons programme that could increase risks and instability.

Washington has been concerned about Pakistan’s development of new nuclear weapons systems, including small tactical nuclear weapons, and has been trying to persuade Pakistan to make a unilateral declaration of “restraint.”

But Pakistani officials have said Islamabad will not accept limits to its weapons programme and argue that smaller tactical nuclear weapons are needed to deter a sudden attack by India.

(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani and Rupam Nair; Editing by Catherine Evans)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Kill ‘anti-Muslim’ leaders and get lucrative jobs in South Africa: D Company’s modus operandi to lure youth

The chargesheet by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against 10 accused in the double murder case of BJP leaders in Bharuch, also says that the D-company lured youth to kill and foment communal tension in India. Submitted in a special Ahmedabad court on Saturday, the chargesheet says that the recruits were promised a huge amount of cash and attractive jobs in places like South Africa, reports The Times Of India. The plan was hatched by close Dawood aide Javed Chikna, NIA said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former BJP president of Bharuch and senior RSS member Shirish Bangali and general secretary of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha Pragnesh Mistry were shot dead on November 2 last year. Investigators said the plan was hatched by Javed Chikna, to avenge the 1993 and 2002 riots in India.One of the accused Abid Patel is the brother of Javed, an accused in the 1993 Bombay (Mumbai) bomb blasts case. During investigation it was also found that Javed and others associated with the Dawood Ibrahim gang instructed a local module to kill the BJP leader. As per the chargesheet submitted before the special NIA court of principal judge P B Desai, “The case relates to murder of two persons …as part of a larger conspiracy in which co-accused located in foreign countries too, were conspiring to kill and strike terror in the minds of people belonging to a particular section of society.” “During investigation, role of co-accused located in Pakistan and South Africa has also emerged and investigation of the case is being continued to collect more evidence against the accused,” it said.
ALSO READ NIA to charge D-Company members tomorrow for attempting to create communal tension As per NIA, D-Company operatives had also asked recruits to disturb communal harmony by vandalising churches and throwing petrol bombs in empty liquor bottles. TOI reports that the chargesheet states that Javed Chikna hatched plans to target leaders of the right wing- primarily from BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal etc. The money for the double murder was routed through hawala channels and Chikna arranged for the guns too. The assailants were reportedly paid Rs 5 lakh to carry out the killings.Chikna is currently based in Pakistan. He alongside another top Dawood operative Zahid Milan asked Chikna’s brother Abid to prepare a hit list of saffron leaders. Once NIA closed in on the case, all the 12 accused were nabbed, including Chikna’s brother Abid.
ALSO READ Guj BJP leaders’ murder: NIA says Dawood aide Javed Chikna had given contract to avenge 1993 and 2002 riotsThe charge sheet was filed against accused Saiyed Imran, Zuheb Ansari, Inayat Patel, Mohmad Yunus, Haider Ali, Nissarbhai Sheikh, Mohsin Khan Pathan, Mohmed Altaf Shaikh, Abid Patel and Abdul Salim Ghanchi. NIA will be filing chargesheets against two other accused Abdul Samad and Nasir Khan Pathan later. Currently, a red-corner notice has been issued against Chikna and Zahid Milan. With PTI inputs

NIA files chargesheet against 10 for 2015 double murder of BJP leaders in Bharuch

Ahmedabad: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday submitted chargesheet before a special court against 10 accused in the double murder case of BJP leaders in Bharuch, claiming the killings were part of a larger conspiracy involving co-accused located in Pakistan and South Africa.

As per the chargesheet submitted before the special NIA court of principal judge PB Desai, “The case relates to murder of two persons …as part of a larger conspiracy in which co-accused located in foreign countries too, were conspiring to kill and strike terror in the minds of people belonging to a particular section of society.”

“During investigation, role of co-accused located in Pakistan and South Africa has also emerged and investigation of the case is being continued to collect more evidence against the accused,” it said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The central agency said chargesheet against two more arrested accused — Abdul Samad and Nasir Khan Pathan — will be filed later.

The chargesheet was filed against accused Saiyed Imran, Zuheb Ansari, Inayat Patel, Mohmad Yunus, Haider Ali, Nissarbhai Sheikh, Mohsin Khan Pathan, Mohmed Altaf Shaikh, Abid Patel and Abdul Salim Ghanchi.

Former BJP president of Bharuch and senior RSS member Shirish Bangali and general secretary of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha Pragnesh Mistry were shot dead in the district by two unidentified gunmen on 2 November, 2015.

Public prosecutor Geeta Gorambe also submitted three applications before the court, seeking permission to keep identity of some witnesses secret, details of certain documents hidden, and NIA protection to the witnesses.

Gorambe told the court that NIA will itself provide protection to certain witnesses but wanted court permission for the same. The court granted permission for all three requests.

A total of 12 accused were arrested in connection with the case and were booked under relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, IPC, Arms Act the Gujarat Police Act.

The special court had in December last year granted NIA more time for filing the chargesheet.

Initially, Bharuch police along with Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) conducted the probe and had termed the murders as an ‘act of terror’.

Investigators said the contract for killing the two BJP leaders was allegedly given by absconding Javed Chikna, apparently to avenge riots in Bombay (Mumbai) during 1993 and in Gujarat during 2002.

One of the chargesheeted accused Abid Patel is brother of Javed, an accused in the 1993 Bombay (Mumbai) bomb blasts case.

During investigation it was also found out that Javed and others associated with Dawood Ibrahim gang instructed local module to kill BJP leaders to avenge 1993 Bombay (Mumbai) riots and 2002 riots, they said.

Based on the request of Gujarat Government, Home Ministry has handed over the probe to NIA in December last year.

Leopards have lost 75% of historic range, study shows

Leopards have lost 75% of their historic range across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with three Asian subspecies in danger of eradication, a new study says.A three-year review of data published in the scientific journal PeerJ this week challenges the conventional assumption that the iconic and famously elusive spotted cats are thriving in the wild. It finds leopards have almost disappeared from vast ranges in China, Southeast Asia and the Arabian peninsula while African leopards confront mounting challenges in the north and west.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The big cats are threatened by spreading farmlands, declining prey, conflict with livestock owners, trophy hunting and illegal trade in their skins and teeth. Their skins are sometimes worn as a symbol of power by African chiefs, including South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma.Their rangelands have shrunk from 35 million square kilometers (13.5 million square miles) in 1750 before the colonization of Africa and the spread of firearms to about 8.5 million square kilometers (3.3 million square miles), the study estimates.It will be used to update the endangered species list curated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, among several groups that conducted the study. Others include the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, the wild cat conservation organisation Panthera and the Zoological Society of London.It is “the single most authoritative and exhaustive review of this kind,” said Guillaume Chapron, associate professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science. Its findings are “a shock as leopards were often believed to be more adaptable to human impacts … than other species such as tigers and lions.”